Apricots: Sweet, Juicy and Dried Fruit Worth Enjoying
Did you know apricots are a type of stone fruit? Apricots are among the tastiest fruits and are native to Armenia and enjoy worldwide popularity. During the summer months, when apricots are in peak season, they’re ripe, juicy, and sweet. You’ll enjoy apricots in many forms and varieties, from fresh to dried, canned, and even made into jams, chutneys, and other tasty treats.
What are apricots and what is their history? Apricots are a type of stone fruit with large, round middles. To be exact, apricots are a member of the prunus genus, which includes almond, peach, and plum climates. Its scientific name is Prunus armeniaca and they are related to peaches, but with a much drier flesh. Apricots date back to ancient times; when merchants brought them from China and Armenia to Europe, apricots were recognized for their distinctive taste, texture, and vibrant orange hue.
Fresh apricots are generally available from May through August, although you’ll find more widely available dried apricot varieties year-round. While apricots grow in most climates, California, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington State are all popular locations due to ideal growing conditions. Apricots come in multiple colors, ranging from bright and juicy yellow-orange to tannish green-yellow. Apricots have a subtle, sweet aroma, with a slightly tart flavor; they also boast many health benefits, thanks to an abundance of essential vitamins and minerals.
When choosing fresh apricots, look for vibrant colors; healthy skin free of bruises, soft spots, and discoloration; and the signature apricot aroma. Make sure the apricots you purchase are lightly firm to the touch. If you’re looking for a sweeter version, opt for the yellow-orange variety. Avoid choosing too-ripe apricots, as this can indicate the flesh is soft, or too much moisture has been lost.
When it comes to nutrition, apricots are an impressive bunch. A single apricot contains approximately 20 calories, no fat, 1.5 grams of fiber, and are packed with essential vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and potassium. As a bonus, apricots are low in basic sugars and moderately high in natural fructose and glucose. This makes them a healthier alternative to their sugary counterparts. Apricots are especially rich in carotenoids, a type of antioxidant known for promoting better eyesight and regulating our body’s normal function.
When it comes to cooking, apricots are incredibly versatile. From savory dishes like apricot glazed pork to sweet desserts, apricots can make almost any dish delicious. Apricots are especially delicious when used in jams, jellies, and cakes. They are also a great addition to salads, tarts, and terrines. Baked goods made with apricots typically heat up quickly, allowing them to become soft and even sweeter. Apricots freeze well and can last up to 12 months when frozen.
Dried apricots are also an excellent choice for adding a sweet and chewy texture to your dishes. Drying apricots preserve them for a longer shelf life compared to fresh apricots. Dried apricots are also a great source of dietary fiber and iron, similar to their fresh counterparts.
Apricots are an excellent resource for improving your overall health. Their abundant vitamin content makes them an essential part of your daily diet. Plus, they are incredibly delicious when enjoyed fresh, dried, or even in jam form. No matter how you choose to enjoy apricots, you are sure to reap all the nutrition and flavor benefits that apricots have to offer.