The apricot is a real peach of a fruit (pun intended). It belongs to the rose family and is closely related to the almond, peach, plum, and cherry. The BC Okanagan valley provides the ideal climate for growing apricots and produces Canada’s entire commercial crop!
The arrival of the apricot begins the soft fruit season. This delicate fruit has a velvety skin that can range in colour from a gold blush to a deep, burnt orange. Its texture is more smooth and sweet than juicy. The intense flavour is slightly musky and faintly tart – like a combination of a peach and plum.
HOW TO CHOOSE
The majority of apricots Ralph’s offer proudly come from BC’s Okanagan between the end of June to mid August. However, they are available in May from California.
Ripe apricots tend to be golden with a slight orange blush. Their faint tangy flavour has a refreshing natural sweetness. Look for well formed, firm but tender fruit with as much golden orange as possible. Avoid soft or hard apricots, shrivelled, or the extremely unripe pale ones.
This is a very fragile fruit that should be handled gently. So don’t pack them in the bottom of your shopping bag…
When brought home unripe, you can leave them out on a countertop and their flavour will develop a bit more as they soften and yield to gentle pressure. For up to one week, store ripe apricots unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator to prevent them from turning too soft or mealy.
Being a delicate soft fruit, only provide a quick rinse under cool water just prior to using. Cut fruit lengthwise around pit and gently twist to separate halves.
Blanching removes skins: Plunge into boiling water, remove after a brief, timed interval and finally plunge into iced water or place under cold running water to quickly stop the cooking process.
Great for eating fresh with the pit removed, processed into juice or preserves, or can be an ingredient in many recipes, like pies and cobblers. Apricots can be preserved through drying which allows them to be used whenever they are needed. When cooked in liquid, the apricots will absorb some of the liquid and become softer and less chewy.
A few quick serving ideas:
- Add sliced apricots to hot or cold cereal.
- Add some chopped apricots to the batter of whole grain pancakes.
- Adding dried, diced apricots to chicken or vegetable stews adds a Middle Eastern flavour.
- Serve fresh apricots in your green salad.
Nutrients in apricots may help protect the heart and eyes, and the fibre may provide disease-fighting effects. The high beta-carotene and lycopene activity is the reason this fruit is an important heart health foods – protecting LDL cholesterol from oxidation.
Apricots contain nutrients such as vitamin A that promote good vision. Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, quenches free radical damage to cells and tissues which can injure the eyes’ lenses.
Apricot, 2 apricots (raw)
Total Fat: 0.27g
*Good source of: Vitamin C (7mg)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.