Fresh, ripe apricots are really appealing when they arrive in market in their season. The apricot is a relative of the peach fruit, and is botanically known as Prunus Armeniaca of the family Rosaceae.
In Latin, apricot means “precious” and it is indeed the most precious among fruits as it ripens earlier than other summer fruits.
Apricots are believed to have hailed from China, where it has been cultivated for nearly 4,000 years. Subsequently, these golden fruits migrated to other parts of the world through travelers or traders. They were fondly adopted by the Persian Empire when they crossed the Mediterranean. Alexander the great was also quite fascinated by the apricot. They were introduced to the New World through Spanish explorers. The first major apricot production in America was reported from San Francisco in 1792.
An apricot tree is small to medium in size, generally 12 ft in height, but can attain a height of 45 ft. Leaves are elliptic or cordate and flowers are white and appear in clusters. The fruit is a drupe, 2 – 2.5” wide, yellow or orange in color with a red blush when ripe. Flesh is smooth with a single seed at its center.
While selecting apricots from market, go for the fleshy types that have a strong golden orange color. Soft apricots are best in flavor if consumed immediately. It is recommended to keep ripe apricots in the refrigerator. If you buy green apricots, keep them at room temperature to ripen them naturally.
Apricots are available throughout the year from different regions of the world. While the Chile variety is available in February to March, California types are found in June – July. Apricots from Washington are available in July – August.
An apricot is packed with nutrients. It is rich in Vitamin C and A, and is a good source of Potassium. It also is absolutely free from saturated fat, sodium or cholesterol.
Apricots are delicious if eaten fresh, but they are terrific after boiling, grilling or poaching. You can easily slice them up for fruit salads, or make Apricot puree to use in cake, dessert or on meat.
Pack an apricot for your lunch or add it to your breakfast table – apricots are simply appetizing.