Apricots are small, orange colored fruits that are family to peaches. Originally cultivated in India, these fruits are now grown in various parts of North America, South America and New Zealand.
Apricots have velvety skin and flesh, and are sweet to taste with a slightly tart undertone similar to peaches and plums. They have a singular brown seed in the middle resembling the almond nut.
These fruits are available throughout the year as dried and canned fruit. Fresh Apricots which provide a good source of Vitamin C, are usually available during the summer months.
In addition to Vitamin C, Apricots are also high in Vitamin A or Beta Carotene which is good for the eyes and heart. Apricots go well with raw fruit and vegetable salads, stir fries, baked goods and meat dishes.
The fruit is a drupe similar to a small peach, 1.5–2.5 cm diameter (larger in some modern cultivars), from yellow to orange, often tinged red on the side most exposed to the sun; its surface is usually pubescent.
Selecting and Buying
Harvest season for apricots in the United States is from June to mid-August depending on variety and location, but dried apricots are available year-round.
Conserving and Storing
apricots will continue to ripen if left at room temperature in a paper bag, away from sunlight. Check the ripening progress often as they will quickly deteriorate. They will never achieve the same full sweet flavor as tree-ripened, but will be better than off the shelf. Once ripened, store for no more than a few days in the refrigerator.
To freeze, slice apricots in half and remove the pit, which will impart a bitter flavor. Dip in an ascorbic acid solution to discourage discoloration. Place in airtight baggies in the freezer up to 3 months.