Ahh dried apricots. Who can resist their chewy texture, sweet and tangy taste, and perfectly golden hue? This world-loved snack has been around for ages, being eaten in ancient Persia and cultivated in Assyria for centuries. And the great thing about them – you can enjoy all the deliciousness of an apricot wherever and whenever you want, anytime of the year, thanks to drying!
Dried apricots are a healthy, nutrient-packed, versatile snack that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Here, let’s take a closer look at this delectable dried fruit to examine what sets it apart from its fresh counterpart.
So, what is a Dried Apricot?
At its most basic level, a dried apricot is simply an apricot that has been dried in order to prevent spoilage and make it shelf-stable. This can be done through the use of air-drying, sun-drying, or hot-air oven drying. In all cases, the drying process results in a product with reduced moisture content and higher sugar content due to caramelization.
What Benefits Does Drying Have on Apricots?
Drying apricots preserves their shelf life and nutritional value. Since much of apricots’ natural moisture is removed during the drying process, it helps keep the apricots from spoiling while preserving their valuable nutrients. Aside from increasing their shelf life, the drying process also brings out certain flavor nuances in the fruit. Heat, through either air-drying or artificial heat, helps caramelize the sugar that is naturally found in apricots, giving them a sweeter and sometimes slightly spiced flavor.
Dried apricots also pack a bigger punch than their fresh counterparts when it comes to nutrients. This is because the drying process concentrates the vitamin and nutrient content, making it possible for you to get a larger dose of fiber, potassium, iron and other nutrients from just one serving. For example, a cup of fresh apricots contains just 2.5 grams of fiber while a cup of dried apricots contains nearly 10 grams – that’s four times more fiber! Furthermore, since dried apricots contain far less moisture, you can get more servings out of the same weight than you would with fresh apricots.
What are the Different Types of Dried Apricots?
There are two main types of dried apricots – California apricots and Turkish apricots. As the name implies, California apricots are grown in the sunny state of California. These apricots tend to be larger and plumper than Turkish apricots and have a sweet but slightly tart flavor. Similarly, Turkish apricots come from the country of Turkey and are much smaller than their California counterparts. They are also slightly firmer, tarter and somewhat spicier.
Both types of dried apricots come in several varieties. If you’re looking for a snack that’s chock-full of nutrients, choose an organic, sulfite-free variety. Alternatively, you could opt for sulfite-infused apricots if you’re looking for a burst of vibrant color and flavor. Other varieties, such as chopped and diced apricots, are ideal for quickly adding to recipes like granola bars and oatmeal.
What are Some Different Ways to Use Dried Apricots?
Dried apricots can be used in myriad ways. With their natural sweetness and versatility, they are the perfect addition to any recipe, be it sweet or savory. Here are some common uses for dried apricots
• Snacking: Dried apricots make a great anytime snack. Simply pair them with a handful of nuts or some dark chocolate chips for a delicious and nutritious treat.
• Baking: For bakers, dried apricots are the perfect ingredient for creating deliciously flavorful cakes and muffins. They also pair wonderfully with oats, flours and nuts to make wholesome granola bars, cookies or energy balls.
• In Salads and Sides: Dried apricots bring a subtle sweetness and wonderful texture to salads and sides. Consider adding them to a quinoa stuffing or try tossing them into a salad with fresh greens, nuts and seeds.
• As Toppings for Yogurt and Smoothies: Add some natural sweetness and texture to your morning meal by topping a bowl of yogurt or a smoothie bowl with chopped dried apricots.
Overall, when it comes to snacking, baking and more, there’s nothing like dried apricots. Full of flavor, nutrients and versatility, they are an excellent choice when you’re looking for a healthy and delicious snack or ingredient. So, whether you’re in the market for a midday snack or something to add to your recipe repertoire, reach for a pack of dried apricots. Trust us – you won’t regret it!