You’ve heard the designation “stone fruits” and you’ve wondered: What is considered a stone fruit? Is an apple a stone fruit? Are pomegranates stone fruit? Are grapes stone fruits? Does it have something to do with seeds? With fruit pits? Find the answers to these questions and more with our comprehensive stone fruits list.
What Are Stone Fruits?
A stone fruit is a fruit that has flesh enclosed around a stone, i.e. a pit. Flesh enclosing a stone sounds like some kind of warped Edgar Allan Poe plot, but the most easily recognizable stone fruit is simply a peach: fruit flesh on the outside, peach pit within.
Stone fruits all contain less than 1 gram of fat, about an average of 67 calories per chopped cup, and of course they are rich in vitamins and minerals like potassium, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. With benefits that include lowering cholesterol and supporting healthy digestion due to their fiber content, stone fruits are a nutritional treasure trove.
Stoned Immaculate: The Comprehensive Stone Fruits List
We’ll identify the top stone fruits and offer some extra information on each one.
Fuzzy on the outside with a hard, sharp pit in the middle, the peach is like the opposite of the character Thornmallow from Jane Yolen’s young adult book Wizard’s Hall (who is named to be sharp on the outside and soft within). If you’ve ever cracked open a peach pit, you’ll find that there’s a seed within that protective shell (or endocarp).
Peaches come in two different types, freestone peaches and clingstone peaches. The freestone variety has flesh that falls easily away from the hard pit inside, while clingstone peaches cleave to their pit, or the pit clings to the peach flesh depending on how you look at it. You can find yellow peaches and white ones, but both will bring a considerable amount of vitamins A and C (25 grams of vitamin A per chopped cup and 10 grams of vitamin C).
Naturally sweet, you don’t need the extra sugars and syrups often found in canned peaches, so long as you can buy your peaches fresh, ripened (meaning not at all green), and unbruised. You can tell a good, ripe peach by the squeeze: it should be firm but springy enough to give slightly when you apply pressure, like taking a healthy, young person by the arm, say, on their wedding day, to escort them down the aisle.
Interestingly enough, peaches do not get sweeter the more they ripen, as other fruits tend to, because once they are harvested, their sugar production stops, so you’ll want to eat them as soon as possible, or otherwise freeze/dry/preserve them.
They can be a wonderful topping on breakfast foods like oatmeal or pancakes or in a peach and granola smoothie. You can put peaches in pies, in cobblers, and even on the grill to really bring out the depth of their flavor, and you’re getting serious health benefits when you eat them too. According to a study done at Texas A&M, peach and plum extract were shown to slow the growth and spread of breast cancer cells. Eating peaches can also increase the level of collagen in your body due to their high amount of vitamin C.
Have you ever checked if something is plumb against a wall, or decided to plumb the depths of a literal or figurative deep well? And did you in the next moment think of the plum fruit and then want one? You’re not alone!
The verb “to plumb” means to probe deeply as a plumber does, whereas if something is plumb, it is exactly vertical, or it is utterly and squarely sure, like when you’re plumb tuckered out. The plum fruit however is a stone fruit, a sweet, purple-skinned beauty so desirable that when someone says they just got a plum deal, they mean they’ve just secured a rich, luxurious win.
With 17 grams of vitamin A and 10 grams of vitamin C per plum, these little fruits pack a lot of nutrients. A good and ripe plum should be heavy, and have springy flesh under its skin, but a hard plum can be quickly ripened at home by placing it in a brown paper bag (it’ll go even more fast if you put it next to a banana—bananas ripen so notoriously quickly that they can make other fruits do so too; bananas are influencers like that).
Like peaches, plums also won’t sweeten more as they soften, so get them while they’re ripe and include them in salads or desserts, or bake a pie if you have the time and desire. Plums combined with yogurt especially have been shown to protect against diseases like type 2 diabetes due to the prebiotic properties in each.
The nectarine is a cousin of the peach. While both fruits come in clingstone and freestone varieties, and in white and yellow coloring, they are still distinctly separate fruits. In appearance, scent, and texture, nectarines are smoother (no peach fuzz), more aromatic, and often smaller and firmer than fully grown peaches. Nectarines tend also to be more susceptible to plant diseases, so when purchasing them, make sure they are unbruised and unpunctured, and are instead vibrant and plump.
With around 88 calories per fruit, nectarines are high in fiber, essential vitamins, and beta-carotene, an antioxidant that provides support for strong bones, skin, and teeth. Make a nectarine upside-down cake, call the recipe a Nectarine Dream cake, and impress everyone who comes to your table.
Apricots are a bright orangey-yellow golden-skinned stone fruit. Super high in potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, ripe apricots have flavonoid phytonutrients called catechins that provide anti-inflammatory benefits when you eat them.
Smaller than both peaches and nectarines, apricots should be somewhat soft when squeezed to test for ripeness, but not mushy. Wonderful to eat fresh and whole, apricots can also be baked, dried for trail mixes, or dehydrated into crisps.
Get ready for some mad science: if you haven’t heard of apriums before, that’s because they’re a hybrid fruit made out of mostly apricot, but with 25% plum thrown in for good measure. While they taste mostly like apricots, they are not as juicy, but they are sweeter as they’re higher in complex sugars and fructose. They contain the same vitamins and nutrients you’ve come to expect like vitamins A and C, and if their intensely unique flavor is something you want to experience, make sure you find them ripe (neither green nor brown), and enjoy.
Raspberries and Blackberries
Surprise: not exactly berries! Unlike blueberries for example, blackberries and raspberries are known in the Western United States as caneberries, and elsewhere like the Southern U.S. as brambleberries. Botanically they are not berries at all, but instead an aggregate fruit, made up of tiny drupelet clusters, and those drupelet clusters are all stone fruits. These non-berries by any other name are still fantastic for your health, with raspberries containing strong antioxidants that fight circulatory diseases and cancer, and blackberries good for promoting oral health.
Just like the blackberries and raspberries that have been misclassified, the mulberry is also considered a stone fruit because it’s made up of clusters of drupes. Mulberries are considered a superfood, with health benefits that include aiding anemia, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. So here we go, “round the mulberry bush,” looking to gain their practically miraculous healing properties.
Another hybrid much like the apricot/plum splice that is the aprium, but this time in reverse percentages; while the aprium is made up of the ratio 75/25 in favor of apricots, the pluot is 75/25 in favor of plums. As a result, pluots look, taste, and feel much more like plums, with only a 3-week-long period of ripeness. So if you find them between their summer season of July through September, get them while the getting’s good, because they’re as rare as they come.
Cherries come in a great variety, like Montmorency sour cherries, which are the brightest red no matter what you do to them (freeze, dry, juice, etc.), and Bing sweet cherries, which are purplish-black dark cherries. All of them have little cherry pits, so all of them are stone fruits.
Cherries offer vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidants and melatonin, which is important for proper sleep and wakefulness (make cherries a bedtime snack!). Tart cherries are at their best between July and August, and are beautiful and delicious in pies and other desserts. Of course, there’s always maraschino cherries in the off season—neon red and pitted so that their stems are left attached, for making a Manhattan in the winter months, or for putting the cherry on top of your sundae.
With a smaller pit relative to their overall size than most of the fruits on this list, mangoes are still a stone fruit, with nutrients like fiber, folic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin C. A ripe mango will smell sweet from the outside, and should be heavier the riper they get (so heft as you choose while shopping). Add tropical color and flavor to a fruit salad, and know that the benefits from mangoes can help boost immunity, promote gut health, lower cholesterol, and even aid in weight loss.
Here’s a fruit in disguise: green almonds are non-processed almonds. Green almonds are baby almonds, taken from the tree before they could dry out, harden, and split (thus producing the almond nut you’re more familiar with). Only around during a few short weeks in spring, they’re more easily found in grocery stores around California, where almonds are grown.
Fuzzy and green with a jelly-like consistency inside, green almonds have a tangy, sweet taste and a recognizable almond flavor. High in fiber, healthy fat, and protein, green almonds are the stone fruit that becomes a nut that you can easily eat as a tasty snack.
The fruit of the Chinese lychee tree, lychees have a thin, sunset-red, rough skin around a small white fruit with a large central pit. The flesh is sweet-smelling and translucent, with a slightly tart flavor some describe as a cross between a tropical pear and a watermelon. They’re often served in cocktails like mojitos and martinis, or paired with cream cheese as a snack and palate cleanser.
Olives are considered stone fruits because of their pits, which you’ll often see replaced in cocktail olives with a pimento (a small bit of a cherry pepper). If you’re looking for a stone fruit that isn’t sweet, look no further, as olives are usually prepared salty, and are often used in martinis (though not in James Bond’s martini—he takes it shaken, not stirred, and with a lemon peel, not an olive).
High in antioxidants and vitamin E, olives (or the compound oleuropein derived from olives) have been found to help the body up its insulin secretion, an asset to maintaining a healthy metabolism.
Another surprise: coconuts are not nuts, but single-seed stone fruits. The coconut you buy is the endocarp, which (as you may remember from the peach pit discussion at the top of this list) is the case surrounding the seed. A coconut in the wild is an outer husk surrounding the endocarp, which surrounds the seed. The coconut left unharvested is itself the seed—it will float away, implant on a new shore, and sprout from one of the three bowling-ball-esque holes or pores that it has. If harvested, however, the fruit of the coconut is the white flesh inside, which can be shredded, milked, and extracted into oil by humans. In some ways the coconut is a nut, a seed, and a reverse fruit all at the same time, and from it we can reap a ton of benefits.
Often found sun-dried, dates are a tropical and delightful stone fruit. Fresh dates are great for helping with weight loss, and are full of the essential nutrients vitamin A, vitamin K, phosphorus, and magnesium. High in fiber and a natural sweetener, dates may promote brain heath, and they contain free radical-fighting antioxidants.
Food from a Stone
If you never thought you could get food from a stone, think again! As these stone fruits show, there is a wealth of health benefits to be found in some of the most surprising places, like in and around pits. When the spring and summer seasons come around, be on the lookout for these fruits, to have at them while they’re ripe for enjoyment.