Come summer, you know some fruits will be more ripe for eating by the pool than others. Peaches and nectarines are obvious contenders. But does anyone really know the difference between the two?

I mean, don't they basically taste the same? In terms of the supermarket shopping battle royale, let's take on the round of nectarine vs peach to figure out what exactly differentiates them.

Physical Appearance and Composition

pasture, nectarine, peach, apple
Dea Uy

As Rachael Ray's website so accurately phrased, nectarines are basically peaches but bald. Have you ever heard of a more direct and perfect description? This hilarious turn of phrase implies that peaches have that fuzz on the outside that smooth nectarines seem to lack, and they are basically part of the same family tree. Ha, pun intended.

Nectarines are definitely not a cross between a peach and a plum. Typically, nectarines are smaller and firmer than peaches but are also more prone to diseases that induce rotting and bacterial spots. 

But they're both considered stone fruits, which means that they have seeds that are very large and hard in the middle. And they both come with either yellow or white flesh on the inside. So while they might look slightly different on the outside, their insides are very much alike.

Taste

While peach and nectarine season runs from July until September, you always want to pick one that looks fresh with a red blush. Nectarines are claimed to be more aromatic, succulent, and sweeter than peaches, but they can also have a spicy "zing" aftertaste.

It really just depends on what looks freshest at the market and how long they've been in your refrigerator. Both peaches and nectarines usually last a week.

Origins

apple, peach, pasture, sweet, juice
Anna Arteaga

Peaches have an illustrious history dating back to at least 10th century China, according to writings from the period. Considered the favorite among Chinese emperors, peaches were later introduced to the Roman population by the Persian peoples in Iran, while Alexander the Great presented them to Europe.

Spanish explorers brought peaches to South America, where they later were taken back to England and France and became a popular, but rare, treat, especially for Queen Victoria. In the early 17th century, English horticulturalist George Minifie brought peaches to the New World and planted seeds at his Virginia estate. Native American tribes actually spread peach seeds across the United States, planting them as they traveled.

Commercial peach production in the United States began in the 19th century, and now they are commercially grown in California, Washington, South Carolina, Georgia and Missouri.

Similarly, nectarines were coined the "nectar of the gods" by one Chinese emperor, which probably gave rise to the adoption of "nectarine" as the fruit's namesake. Nectarine literally means "sweet as nectar." Like peaches, nectarines most likely originated in China over 2,000 years ago and were later cultivated in Persia, Greece, and Rome.

Great Britain grew nectarines in the late 16th or early 17th centuries, and the Spanish population later introduced nectarines to the United States. Today, over 95 percent of nectarines produced in the United States are grown in California (my home state!).

Use

When cooking, peaches and nectarines are essentially interchangeable, and you can substitute one for the other. So when baking one into a cobbler, grilling one for a BBQ, or slicing one up for an afternoon snack, you can expect a pretty similar result if you use one over the other.

They both come in either freestone, where the flesh inside separates easily from the pit, as well as clingstone, where the flesh refuses to do so, varieties. Freestone fruits are better for freezing, whereas clingstone are better for canning.

Nutrition

peach, pasture, nectarine, apple, sweet
Sarah Strohl

In terms of nutritional value, both peaches and nectarines are excellent choices to add to your summer diet. At roughly 70 calories for a large peach, the fruit contains fiber, antioxidants to deter chronic diseases and reduce body inflammation, potassium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A.

For a medium-sized nectarine, on the other hand, the fruit would come in at 60 calories, and offers the health benefits of beta-carotene for vision, Vitamin C, potassium, and lutein, which helps to support healthy eyes and skin as well as decrease the risk of cancer.

So ICYMI, peaches are nectarines with fuzz. And since they're basically family, how can you expect to choose a winner within this nectarine vs peach round of the summer fruit battle royale?

We're not in the Wars of the Roses, here, folks. No need to pick one over the other. They both taste delicious, and we can all win by eating more of them this summer. Happy July, and go grab yourself a bunch of peaches and nectarines from your local market.