Apricots are orange colored fruits full of beta-carotene and fiber that are one of the first signs of summer. Although dried and canned apricots are available year-round, fresh apricots are in season in North America from May through August. Any fresh fruit you see during the winter months have been imported from either South America or New Zealand.
Relatives to peaches, apricots are small, with velvety skin and flesh, not too juicy but perfectly sweet. Apricots will grow wild and are recorded as far back as prehistoric times. They were present in ancient Greece and Rome, and many experts claim that original cultivation happened in India more than 3,000 years ago.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, apricots contain vitamin A, C, K, E, and niacin in significant amounts. They also contain a number of other essential vitamins in trace amounts (less than 5% of daily requirement). Apricots also have good mineral content, which includes potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. They are a very good source of dietary fiber. Apricots have nearly all the minerals necessary for bone growth like calcium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, and copper. Add apricots in season for healthy growth and development of your bones, as well as prevention of various age-related bone conditions, including osteoporosis. Owing to the presence of iron and copper, apricots help in the formation of hemoglobin, particularly helpful in treating anemia.
Apricots are a wonderful way to protect your heart from a wide variety of diseases, including atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. A high amount of vitamin C, as well as potassium and dietary fiber, all contribute to goodhealth.
Apricot oil is good for skin care. It is quickly absorbed by the skin and soaks in after application. Apricots are not just useful for maintaining the smooth and shiny appearance of the skin; they also aid in improving a number of skin diseases including eczema, itching, scabies, and a number of other irritating conditions. This is specifically due to the antioxidant compounds found in apricots. Not only do they have a healthy amount of vitamin A, which has long been associated with healthier skin, but the antioxidants in apricots protect the skin from the effects of free radicals, which can lead to skin deterioration and signs of premature aging.
There are no inherent dangers of eating apricots, except for normal allergies that some people might have. However, there is some concern about the nature of its dried form. Sulfites are found in most dried foods. Sulfites can seriously impact asthma and induce asthmatic attacks. Consume fresh apricots, rather than dried versions, when they are available. Also, apricot seeds have been known to cause cyanide poisoning in some people, so make sure you do not ingest or eat the seeds.
How to Buy
Look for apricots that have a golden color and are firm.
Avoid apricots that are pale yellow or greenish-yellow, rock hard, very soft or shrivled.
How to Store
Ripen apricots in a paper bag at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Unripe apricots can be stored at room temperature up to 5 days. Refrigerate ripe apricots in a sealed container up to one week. (Be sure that they are ripened first, as they will not ripen in the refrigerator.)
How to Cook
Slice the ripe apricot at the natural seam, twist the apricot in half, and remove the pit.
Grill apricots, add them to rice pilaf or make apricot chutney. Apricots are delicious with grated lemon zest and juice, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, nectarines, peaches, freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and cardamom, or mint!