In America, apricots have become one of our first signs of summer. They are a pretty orange in color, have velvety skin and flesh and are not overly juicy while still smooth and sweet to the palate.

However, the season is short so over half the apricots grown must be canned for later use.

Apricots may be small, but they’re big on both flavor and nutrition. These yellow-orange fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals, with a flavor ranging from sweet to sweet-tart, depending on the variety. The flesh of apricots is soft and somewhat juicy when ripe, and they have a velvety skin with soft fuzz.

Prunus armeniaca originated in China, where it was first cultivated about 4,000 years ago. This delicious stone fruit held high favor with locals, traders, and travelers, so it’s no surprise that it began its journey west along the Silk Road. Over time, apricots began growing across Central Asia and the Middle East.

Apricots reached the Mediterranean about 2,000 years ago, where they flourished in the warm, sunny climate. Today, Turkey and Iran  are the world’s largest producer of apricots.

There are many different apricot varieties to enjoy, the most popular being Blenheim, Tilton, and Moorpark.

A Golden Fruit of History

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.

Most sources also point out the fact that the botanical name is “armeniaca”, which means Romans knew it originated from Armenia.

There is a disturbing legend regarding apricots as a jinx in the military, which apparently derives from canned apricots in U.S. governmental C-rations. In Eastern countries, the apricot is known as “moon of the faithful,” and the ancient Persians referred to the apricot as “egg of the sun.”

Relative to the Peach

The apricot is a relative of the peach, although is a bit smaller than a peach.

Apricots are marketed fresh, dried and packed.

Large quantities of apricots are canned or pulped for making healthful apricot preserves.

Apricot Nutrition

Apricots are a good source of vitamins A (helps protect vision) and C. Three medium apricots contain about 50 calories. Apricots are delicious eaten whole and fresh, and the good news is they are low in sodium, calories and fat, so there is no need to feel guilty no matter how many you eat.

Apricots are also high in fiber and low in calories. Weight for weight, dried apricots are an even healthier option as the drying process increases the concentration of the beta carotene and fiber and also the levels of potassium and iron.

Make Apricots Part of Your 5 A Day Plan

It is easy to include apricots in your meals. Try these great short cuts to getting your 5 to 9 A Day!

Did you know?

  • The apricot is a native of China and has been cultivated for over 4,000 years.
  • Today, the United States produces close to 90 percent of the world’s apricots, most being grown in California.
  • Apricots are an excellent source of beta carotene (vitamin A) and also provide vitamin C, iron, potassium, and fiber.
  • Apricots are also a way to get lycopene, which has been associated with cancer prevention in men. They are also a good source of fiber.
  • Three medium apricots contain only about 50 calories, making them a great snack-choice.

Varieties of Apricots

There are at least ten varieties of apricots. Some of the most common ones found in markets are the early Castlebrite, Patterson and Flaming Gold. Choose apricots that are slightly soft but still firm and fuzzy in texture, with a yellow-orange color. Ripe apricots bruise easily, so look for unblemished fruit, especially for desserts and fresh-fruit compotes. Avoid buying apricots that have no aroma or that are rock-hard.

Nothing is better than fresh tree-ripened fruit, so local sources are always the best. But in areas where cultivation is impossible, farmers’ markets and grocery stores usually have a good selection. California supplies 95-percent of the nation’s apricots.

Apricot season runs from mid-May through early July. Apricots are relatives to peaches, and their flavor is somewhere between that of a peach and a plum.

Enjoying Apricots

Apricots are enjoyed as a fresh fruit but also dried, cooked into pastry, and eaten as jam. The fruits are also distilled into brandy and liqueur. Try serving fresh apricots in your next green salad when they are in season.

For most, apricots taste best when fully ripenened. Ripen your apricots by placing them in a closed paper bag at room temperature for two to three days.

Store ripe apricots in your crisper bin of the refrigerator. Once ripe, apricots can be halved, pitted and frozen. They become soft when thawed but can be used in sauces, purees, ice creams and sorbet.

Cooking suggestion: Cook apricots with sugar (1 pound of fruit per 2 cups sugar) on the stove until thickened for a delicious jam.

Dried and Canned Apricots

While fresh apricots are tops nutritionally, don’t discount dried apricots and canned apricots. All have something to offer. Dried apricots are a concentrated source of calories, as well as nutrients, so it’s important to practice portion control.

Canned apricots provide much nutrition despite some losses in vitamin C and potassium during processing. The biggest negative is the additional calories and sugar found in the canning liquid. Juice-packed and water-packed apricots are the most healthful canned options, but if you can’t find them, opt for “extra light” or “light” syrup; avoid those packed in heavy syrup.

The beta-carotene in apricots may provide heart benefits by curbing the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Eating three or more servings a day of fruit has been shown to help protect against age-related macular degeneration, a sight-robbing eye disease.

Apricot Cooking Tips

  • Cook with sugar (1 pound of fruit per 2 cups sugar) on the stove until thickened for a delicious jam.
  • Add apricots to grain dishes for extra flavor, textural contrast and nutrition.
  • Dried apricots will keep for a few months in a plastic bag. Sprinkle on cereal or yogurt or stew in a little water with cinnamon for a compote or pancake topping.
  • Apricots can be made into wine and brandy.
  • Slice them up for fruit salads.
  • Puree apricots for sauces. The sauces are especially good on pancakes, desserts, or meat.
  • Use apricots whenever a recipe calls for peaches or nectarines.
  • Add apricots to your favorite baked desserts.
  • Pack them for your lunch, or have them as a snack
  • Add apricots to low fat cottage cheese and your fruit smoothies.
  • For a great tasting snack when hiking, add dried apricots to your trail mix

Apricots can be halved or sliced then frozen in syrup made from 2 cups sugar to 5 cups water; add 2 ounces ascorbic acid for each 2-1/2 cups syrup. Plunge the whole apricots into boiling water for about thirty seconds, and peel, pit and halve or slice.

Apricot Nectar Shake

  • 1 cup mashed ripe frozen bananas (about 2 large)
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 1 cup apricot nectar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Place all ingredients in blender. Cover and blend about 30 seconds or until smooth. Serve immediately over ice cubes. Serves 2.

Apricot Jam

  • 2 cups fresh apricots, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon powdered fruit pectin

In glass batter bowl, combine apricots, sugar, and juice. Microwave on high 10 minutes, uncovered. Stir very well to dissolve any sugar remaining on the bottom. Add the pectin and stir it in. Microwave 1 minute on high. Pour into hot sterilized jars, cups, whatever. Seal as desired. This can be stored in refrigerator up to 3 months without sealing it, just cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Amazingly Simple Apricot Sorbet Recipe

2 (15-1/4 ounce each) cans apricot halves
Sprig of mint for garnish, optional

Place the two cans of apricots in the freezer overnight. Briefly run the cans under hot water to loosen the contents. Dice into 1-inch cubes and put in a food processor; pulse until creamy. Serve immediately or freeze for later use. If desired, garnish with a sprig of mint. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Apricot Chicken Stir Fry Recipe

  • 1/2 cup dried apricot halves, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, optional
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, but into 1 /2-inch chunks
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, halved
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup halved snow peas
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a small bowl, soak apricots in water; set aside (do not drain). Combine flour, cilantro if desired and pepper; sprinkle over the chicken and set aside. Heat two teaspoons oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat; stir-fry onion and celery for two to three minutes or until tender. Add peas, ginger, garlic and apricots; stir-fry for two minutes. Remove and keep warm. Add remaining oil to skillet; stir-fry the chicken for six to seven minutes or until no longer pink. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Return apricot mixture to skillet and heat through.
Recipe makes four servings.
Nutritional information per serving:  Calories: 203; Total Fat: 7g; Saturated fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 47mg; Sodium: 70mg; Carbohydrate: 17g; Protein: 19g

In Summary

  • Apricots are a good source of vitamin A (helps protect vision).
  • Apricots are a good source of vitamin C.
  • Three medium apricots contain about 50 calories.

Apricot Facts

  • In one ounce apricots contain enough beta carotene to supply 20 percent of your daily vitamin A requirements.
  • Astronauts ate apricots on the Apollo moon mission.
  • Apricots originally were grown in China over 4000 years ago and were brought to California by the Spanish in the late 18th century.
  • California is also the largest producer of apricots.
  • Over half the apricots grown are canned due to their short season.
  • Three and one half ounces of dried apricots can supply four million grams of beta carotene.
  • Dried apricots are over 40 percent sugar.
  • Try and purchase unsulphured dried apricots.
  • Store ripe apricots in the crisper bin of the refrigerator for one to two days.
  • To ripen apricots, place them in a closed paper bag at room temperature.
Apricots Health Benifits

Apricot FAQS

What are apricots known for?

Rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene, and other carotenoids, apricots are excellent for promoting eye health. Lutein helps to support retina and lens health, while carotenoids and vitamin E support overall vision. Apricot nutrients also help to reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.

Where are apricots originally from?

The apricot, which was cultivated in China and Central Asia as early as 2000 B.C., migrated with the country’s traders, who traveled the Great Silk Road. The Chinese merchants, botanist Berthold Laufer suggests, very probably introduced the fruit to the Persians. They called it the “yellow plum” (zardaloo). Widely dispersed, it was spread throughout the Eurasian steppe by nomadic, horseback-riding tribesmen.

Why are apricots bad?

The superstition exists that apricots are a jinx that invite deadly trouble, especially for Marine tanks and their drivers. This may have started during World War II when a platoon of Amphibious Assault Vehicles fell to the Japanese. Supposedly every AAV was sunk and all crewmembers died

What season is apricots?

These fragrant, sweet fruits are in season from May to September. Find out how to buy the best apricots and prepare them, plus what to make with them. A relative of the peach, nectarine, plum and cherry, apricots are fragrant, with a soft, velvety skin that ranges from pale yellow to deep orange.

Do apricots make you fart?

Many of these foods contain a complex sugar called raffinose, and/or fructose, both of which can cause gas. And it’s not only vegetables; fruit can also give you gas. Apples, bananas, peaches, pears, apricots and oranges, along with dried fruit, all contain sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol that’s super gassy.

Are apricots winter fruit?

Only buy apricots during the season when they’ve been grown in the U.S. This means late spring through the summer. While apricots can be found in the winter, these will have been grown in South America, Australia or New Zealand and shipped a long distance.

Do apricots make you poop?

Dried fruits, such as dates, figs, prunes, apricots, and raisins, are another great source of dietary fiber that acts as constipation relief. “Prunes, in particular, are great because they not only are high in fiber, they also contain sorbitol, which is a natural laxative,” Prather says.

Can you eat too many apricots?

The fiber in dried fruit has a lot of things going for it. A handful can work like magic if you’re constipated. These sweet treats, though, are also high in a sugar called fructose, which can give you a tummy ache if you eat too much.

Can pregnant ladies eat dried apricot?

Dried Apricots – a good source of iron is needed for the production of red blood cells, iron is a vulnerable nutrient during pregnancy so try adding some chopped apricots to your breakfast or have a couple as a snack.

Can we eat apricot at night?

They are a great evening snack because they have have a fair amount of fibre and they’re one of the few foods that naturally contain melatonin. Illustrated by Louisa Cannell. Not into cherries? Try apricots, which come with a relaxing combination of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fibre.

Is it good to eat apricot everyday?

Apricots are a great source of many antioxidants, including beta carotene and vitamins A, C, and E. What’s more, they’re high in a group of polyphenol antioxidants called flavonoids, which have been shown to protect against illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease

How many apricots are too many?

The Mayo Clinic recommends that women age 50 or younger consume 25 grams of fiber a day; men, aged 50 or younger, should consume 38 grams per day. Just 4 or 5 apricots a day. As many as you can and want too. just be careful with the apricot stones.

Are apricots sweet or sour?

When ripe, they’re sweet like a peach with just a tiny punch of sour flavor (unripe ones will be more sour). Apricots are delicate enough for light snacking, but sturdy enough to be used for cooking and baking.

What climate do apricots grow in?

Apricots are best suited to climates with consistently cold winters and short dry springs. A short period in winter with daytime temperatures in the high 40’s or low 50’s (which happens most winters) can cause Apricots to break dormancy and come into bloom.

How fast do apricot trees grow?

This tree grows at a fast rate, with height increases of more than 24″ per year.

Is an apricot a plum?

In fact, although the fruit tree is in the subgenus Prunophors within the genus Prunus together with the plum tree, we know the fruits as apricots. Since plums and apricots fall within the same genus and subgenus, they can be cross-bred

Is an apricot a berry?

Subcategories within the fruit family—citrus, berry, stonefruit or drupe (peaches, apricots), and pome (apples, pears)—are determined by which parts of the flower/ovary give rise to the skin, flesh and seeds. … But no, they’re actually considered a berry, too—with one, giant seed.

Why are apricots so expensive?

Few local growers have apricots to harvest, so they are shipped from California, the source of most apricots, and both time and safe handling preclude picking the fruit at its peak. … Thus the consumer who buys the fruit, not the store, will be saddled with the expensive waste. Color is a good clue.

Read More: Food Facts