Ripe nectarines should be plump, firm (but not rock hard), relatively heavy with smooth skin. Look for bright colour and a sweet and fruity scent. They should give slightly to fingertip pressure, especially along the seam.
Slight under-ripe nectarines should finish ripening within 2-3 days at moderate room temperature, out of direct sunlight.
Refrigerate ripe nectarines in a single layer. They're best eaten within a week.
Give them a quick rinse under cool running water prior to use.
Most are eaten whole and raw with the skin. But they are also good sliced as a topping for cereal, pancakes or ice cream, as a partner to yogurt, in mixed fruit pies, in rice and chicken salads, in sandwiches or as a base for chutney.
They may be preserved or frozen in the same fashion as fresh peaches.