Apricot


In Latin, apricot means "precious," a label earned because it ripens earlier than other summer fruits. A relative of the peach, the apricot is smaller and has a smooth, oval pit that falls out easily when the fruit is halved.

Apricots originally came from China. This golden fruit has been around for more than 4,000 years. Apricots progressively made their way through the Persian Empire to the Mediterranean where they were fondly adopted. Spanish explorers introduced the apricot to the New World, and they were planted in the gardens of Spanish missions all over California. The first recorded major production of apricots in America was in 1792 south of San Francisco.


Apricot
Serving size 1/2 cup, sliced (83g)
Amounts Per Serving % Daily Value
Calories 40
Calories from Fat 5
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
  Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
  Sugars 11g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A 30%
Vitamin C 15%
Calcium 2%
Iron 2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.



Apricots Today

In the United States, 95% of apricots grow in the San Joaquin Valley and other parts of northern California. More than 400 growers produce many varieties of apricots, the most common of which are featured in the table below. Growers continually experiment with new varieties that deliver sweet flavor and ship or process well.

Selection and Storage
         
Apricot variety Average maturity
date
General size Profile/
Flavor
Pattersons June 15 Medium Firm/Good Flavor
Blenheims June 19 Medium Firm/Good Flavor
Tiltons June 25 Large Firm/Tart Flavor
Castlebrites May 28 Medium Firm/Full Flavor
Source: http://www.califapricot.com/*


Look for plump apricots with as much golden orange color as possible. Stay clear of fruit that is pale yellow, greenish-yellow, very firm, shriveled, or bruised. Apricots that are soft-ripe have the best flavor, but they must be eaten immediately.

Apricots will ripen at room temperature. To help them ripen, place them in a paper bag with an apple. When they yield to gentle pressure, they are ready to eat. Refrigerate ripe apricots, unwashed, in a paper or plastic bag up to 2 days. Wash them before eating. They are a perfect fast food anytime. To cut fruit, slice around its seam, twist it in half, and lift out the pit.

Apricots are available throughout the year from different regions:

    * Mid-February through mid-March from Chile
    * Mid-June through mid-July from California
    * Mid-July through mid-August from Washington

What About Dried Apricots?

The nutrients (e.g., beta-carotene and niacin) are more concentrated in dried than in fresh apricots. Dried apricots also have a higher sugar content, which makes them more likely to stick on your teeth. Your dentist will remind you to brush or rinse your teeth after eating any dried fruit or sticky foods. If you’re allergic or sensitive to sulfites, remember to look on the label of the package to see if the apricots were treated with sulfur dioxide for color preservation. Look in health-food stores for apricots that were not treated with sulfites. They’ll be brown, not orange.
     
Preparation

Apricots are great to eat raw, but they are also terrific cooked. These are some common cooking methods:

Broiling or grilling: Try threading the apricots (whole or halved) on skewers. Brush them with a little honey, and grill until semi-soft. Broiling apricots is easy. Simply halve the apricots, place them on a cookie sheet with the skin down and the cut side up, and heat for 7 to 10 minutes.

Poaching: It’s a great method for making a delicious sauce. Simply place the apricots with their skins intact into simmering water or fruit juice, and cook until tender. Adding spices such as cinnamon or cloves enhances the apricot taste. When the apricots are tender, the poaching liquid can be used as a sauce. Poaching takes about 6 to 8 minutes.

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Recipes

Photo of apricotsSavory Fresh Apricot Bites
Serves 12. Each serving equals 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetables
Source: California Fresh Apricot Council

Ingredients
    4 oz fat-free cream cheese, softened
    12 fresh apricots, halved
    ½ cup pistachios, finely chopped

Stir cream cheese until smooth; pipe or spoon into apricot halves. Sprinkle tops with pistachios. Serve as an appetizer, snack, or dessert.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 77, Protein 3g, Fat 3g, Calories From Fat 26%, Carbohydrates 10g, Cholesterol 0mg, Fiber 2g, Sodium 52mg.

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