Juicy and delicious apricots are a crowd favorite, especially in the hot summer months! This sweet fruit comes into season around May and they stay good until August in North America. These tasty treats are loaded with vitamin C and beta carotene, which give them their beautiful orange color, but more on that later. Relatives to the apricot are peaches, pears, and plums, and they have a unique and velvety taste to them. You can enjoy dried apricots, apricot powder, and even use apricot seeds for a variety of things, which makes this a versatile fruit.
Apricot Fun Facts
- “California produces about 95% of apricots in the U.S.
- Apricots are a member of the rose family.
- Apricot trees will generally produce fruit for 20-25 years.
- Apricots have been around for over 4000 years.”
- “It is said that Alexander the Great introduced apricots to Greece. It is believed that it was General Lucullus of Rome who brought apricots to Rome from Armenia.
- California leads commercial production of apricots in America. Utah and Washington contribute slightly. Actually 95% comes from California.
- Apricot refers to a tree which produces the genus Prunus or stone fruits. In this genus Prunus, there are several species. Of these various species, there is a specific species known as armeniaca. The fruit of this species is known as a apricot.”
In Latin, the word apricot means ‘precious’ and it ripens more quickly that most summer fruits. There is nothing more exciting than getting your first harvest of fresh summer fruits ready for eating, so it does not come as a surprise that the people were excited to get their hands on the fresh apricots. Originally starting in China around 4,000 years ago, apricots made their way to Persia, better known as the Mediterranean today. They were also prevalent in the Arab culture, and one of the famous sultans was even named Barqūq, which means ‘the plum’.
According to Ty Ty Nursery,
“Apricots were known in ancient Greece in 60 BC and later introduced into the Roman Empire. The apricot trees are believed to have arrived in the early American colonies in seed form for growing into fruit trees by the French explorers of the 1700’s in Gulf regions and in the Eastern United States and at California monasteries by Spanish explorers and missionaries.”
Apricot trees can reach a height of 12 feet and they should be planted about 25 feet away from each other to encourage solid growth and maturing. The orchards used to cultivate and harvest apricot trees have to be very large to accommodate the space needed for each individual tree.
The Spanish explorers got their hands on apricots and eventually landed them in California where they are prevalently grown today. The first massive production run of apricots happened in San Francisco in 1792 and to this day, California produces 95% of all United States apricot produce. The Silicon Valley, which is now known for its startup tech companies, was home to many farmers who grew apricots. There were over 2,000 farmers and around 18,000 acres in this area until it moved due to the industry growth. Today there are still around 300 apricot growers in the state of California, who head production of the fruit.
Apricot Nutritional Facts
The dark orange color of the apricot is beautiful to look at, but it is also loaded with many different essential vitamins and minerals. Some of the prevalent and well known vitamins and minerals are folate, niacin, vitamin A, E, C, K, potassium, calcium, and manganese. For every 100 grams there is around 50 calories, which makes this scrumptious fruit low in calories and diet friendly too. They are also loaded with fiber, which is wonderful for your digestive health.
Both peaches and apricots belong to the rose family, but what are their nutritional differences? Both fruits are harvested in dry climates with colder winters, and the apricot is smaller in size than the peach. Peaches are a great source of vitamin B3 and apricots are rich in vitamin A and B5. According to Soft Schools, “of both the peach and the apricot are high in cyanogenic glycosides, substances that can transform into hydrogen cyanide (a toxic compound). Despite that, the seed of the apricot is used in human diet and it is widely appreciated for its medicinal properties (it is often used in the treatment of cancer).”
On top of apricots being rather tart, yet sweet with a velvety skin, they are also really good for your blood health, heart, and eyes. Lastly, they have so many antioxidants and they are loaded with calcium, which in turn strengthens your bones! These mighty fruits may be smaller than the peach, but they are just as delicious and equally nutritious!
Apricot Health Benefits
The health benefits to consuming an organically grown apricot are valuable to say the least. Some of the more common benefits when eating an apricot are the digestive benefits, as they help cure indigestion and constipation. These fruits are literally almost as effective as prunes when it comes to your bathroom needs! They also help soothe earaches, toothaches, anemia, and even protect the body against certain types of cancer! They also help with heart health, due to the high vitamin C content, which in turn protects the body against heart attack and strokes. If you find yourself out in the heat for long periods throughout the day, apricots can help you balance out your fluid and electrolyte levels with its high content of potassium.
Finally, if you find yourself needing a little pick me up if you have a fever and do not feel well, drinking apricot juice or eating the fruit itself will soothe the body from the inside out. Some people find that steaming the apricot and then consuming it helps alleviate sickness and inflammation in the body. You do not have to be sick to eat an apricot, however, to reap the benefits tenfold.
There are an abundance of different types of apricots to choose from, and they are all just as tasty as the next. According to Harvest to Table, there are over 25 different varieties you can try out, and they are commonly found in many nurseries around the country if you are looking to harvest. Some of the varieties of apricots are listed below, with a short description underneath.
- “Apium: medium to large fruit with clear yellow skin and some plum taste. Late harvest.
- August Glo: medium-size apricot with a great sweet-tart flavor. Late harvest.
- Autumn Royal: similar to Blenheim. Medium fruit with yellow skin with a slight orange blush. Flesh is yellow, slightly acidic. Use fresh, canned, or dried. Late harvest into fall.
- Blenheim: medium to large apricot with thick yellow-orange flesh, very juicy fruit with sweet, sprightly, and aromatic flavor. This is the classic California apricot. Eat out of hand or use for canning. Early to mid-season harvest.
- Chinese (Mormon): small, orange-skinned fruit with red blush. Smooth, firm flesh is sweet and juicy. Mid-season to late harvest.
- Earligold: medium-sized fruit is golden yellow with rich and juicy flesh. Use for canning and for eating fresh. Early harvest.
- Floragold: small to medium-sized apricot with yellow skin and flesh. Mid-season harvest.
- Garden Annie: medium to large fruit with a bright yellow skin. The clingstone flesh is juicy and firm. Early harvest.
- Goldcot: medium to large fruit, nearly round with bright gold skin. Thick flesh is orange and firm and sprightly-sweet flavored. Use for processing, canning, or eating fresh. Mid-season to late harvest.
- Golden Amber: large and symmetrical apricot with yellow skin and flesh, firm, slightly acidic. Use fresh, in canning, or for drying. Late harvest.
- King: very large apricot. Midseason harvest.
- Moongold: plum-size apricot with golden skin and flesh. Sweet, sprightly flavor. Use fresh, canned, or for jam. Early to mid-season harvest.
- Perfection (Goldbeck): fruit is large, oval to oblong, light yellow–orange skin with a pebbly appearance. Yellow to yellow-orange flesh. Mediocre flavor. Early harvest.
- Puget Gold: medium-sized apricot with good flavor, low in acid. Use canned or dried. Mid- to late-season harvest.
- Sungold: plum-size, bright orange apricot with a sweet, mild flavor. Use fresh, canned, or as jam. Early to mid-season harvest.
- Tilton: large to very large apricot with orange skin, yellow-orange flesh. Fair flavor. Use fresh. Mid-season harvest.
- Wenatchee Moorpark: Large to oval apricot with orange-yellow flesh and skin. Fair texture. Excellent flavor. Mid-season harvest.”
Apricots can be directly consumed off of the tree, or they can be incorporated into jams, jellies, desserts, and even paired with chicken to make a delectable apricot chicken dish. Apricot oil has been said to help with skin health by both tightening and firming the skin. There is an abundance of uses for this delicious fruit that go far beyond picking one off the tree. One of my favorite uses for apricots is making homemade apricot chicken to eat with family. The recipe can be found below.
Apricot Chicken Recipe
- 12 chicken thighs
- 1 cup apricot preserves
- 1 cup French dressing
- 1 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- In a medium bowl combine the jam, dressing, and soup mix. Mix together.
- Place chicken pieces in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour apricot mixture over chicken and bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes.