Apricot is a soft, juicy, loose-stoned fruit, resembling a small peach. The tree bearing apricots is also called an apricot.
Apricots are fragrant, delicate in flavour and with a velvety skin. They have impressive amount of beta carotene and vitamin C.
They originated from China about 4000 years ago. California supplies over 90% of the USA crop and only 16% of the harvested fruit are sold fresh, during a period of about 10 weeks. About half of the crop is canned in syrup. The rest is soft dried. (The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition)
Naturally dried apricots are dark in colour but are usually treated with sulphur dioxide to give them the impressive orange colour.
There are over a dozen cultivars of apricots, similar in taste, but different in size and colour. The colour ranges from yellow to deep orange. The well known varieties are Blenheim, Tilton, Patterson and Castlebrite. (The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition)
How to Buy Apricots
Apricots are very delicate and ripe ones are not easy to transport, so getting ripe apricots outside growing area is not easy.
Buy plump, firm and orange-gold coloured apricots and ripen them at room temperature, in a paper bag, away from direct sunlight. They will take a day or two to ripen.
Do not buy hard, green tinged fruits as these will never develop full flavour.
Once ripe, they should be eaten as soon as possible as they do not store well.
Availability in the USA and Canada: mid-may to mid August. Foodland Ontario: seasonal availability Guide.
They are also imported from Chile and New Zealand during off season.
Here are a few apricot recipes:
Apricot Almond Cake
Apricot Glazed Chicken