We are thrilled that stone fruit season is finally here! It’s hard to walk into any farmers market this time of year and not experience the fragrance of ripening stone fruits wafting through the hot summer air. The variety of colors of both flesh and skin suggest high levels of disease-fighting antioxidants so fill your basket and include them in your weekly meal plan while they last.

Also known as drupes, stone fruits are usually characterized by a thin outer skin that covers a fleshy middle with a stone at the center. The seed of the fruit is located inside the stone. Peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, and cherries are easy enough to identify, but did you know that coconuts and almonds are also stone fruits? Blackberries and raspberries are “bramble” fruits made up of individual drupelets with blackberry stones being particularly noticeable.

Stone fruits have long been at the core of classic dessert recipes like pies and cobblers. Let’s explore outside the pie dish and discover other ways you can enjoy them this season:

Grill: Ripened stone fruits do really well on the grill as they have higher natural sugar content than many other fruits. The sugar caramelizes nicely, imparting a delicious smokiness. Peaches, nectarines, apricots, and plums all do really well over fire, just be sure to oil the grates and the fruit or they will stick. We love using coconut oil. Try this simple recipe for Grilled Peaches – serve as dessert or chop and add to a salad. They are terrific tossed with chopped basil as well and drizzled with some dessert wine – oh so fancy!

Blend: Adding some ripened stone fruit to smoothies is a terrific way to enjoy this seasonal treat. Using just ½ cup of flavor-dense stone fruit can help make lower-sugar vegetable additions, like spinach, more enjoyable. Chocolate-covered cherries anyone? Try using cherries in place of blueberries in this Chocolate Detox Smoothie.

Quick Preserves: Preserving fruit often involves a lot of sugar. To get a similar effect without all the added sugar, you can make a refrigerator chia jam like this one: Quick Chia Jam. The amount of additional chia seed needed will depend on the water content of fruit – so add a little at a time to get the thickness you desire.

Salsa: This is a great use for slightly un-ripened stone fruit. Using fruit when it still has some firmness yields a really nice topping for just about any grilled protein. Mango-jalapeño salsa is a classic. We love this peach-based salsa with grilled fish: Simple Peach Salsa. Toss salsa with some chopped cucumbers for a refreshing side salad too.