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California Apricots

You should enjoy fresh California apricots while they're in season. Juicy, sweet-tart apricots stay around for just about eight weeks, so enjoy!!

Eating apricots out of hand is terrific but there are many ways to use them.

Apricots are high in Vitamin A and C, with a good amount of potassium. 5-A-Day (USDA recommends five servings of fruits and vegetables daily) for better health by eating apricots is a real pleasure.

The apricot is the first major fruit of the summer season. Actually, this fact is contained in the Latin word for apricot, Praecoquum, meaning early ripe or precocious, because the apricot trees blooms and bears so early in the season. The plump, delicious apricot is an amazingly versatile and nutritious fruit with a glamorous past.

It began 4000 years ago in China, where apricots still grow wild in the mountains, and followed man around the world. The famous "Golden Apples" of Greek mythology were actually apricots. Italy welcomes the apricot in about 100 BC. But it did not reach England until the end of the 16th century. In the early part of the sixteen hundreds, apricots were grown in Virginia, but the fruit never adapted well to the climate of the eastern part of the United States.

The Spaniards took the apricot to the New World. The first planting was in the 18th century in California where the first commercial orchard was in Santa Clara near San Jose.

Today California leads the nation in apricot production with an average of 100,000 tons per year. The FRESH crop (not used for processing) for 2001 is expected to be 20,000 tons or about 2 million, 20 lb. Boxes of fruit. California apricot production is about 95% of the total U.S. production.

Apricots require a particular range of climate. The early blooming characteristics of the fruit means it should not be grown commercially in areas subject to heavy frost. To warm a climate will not provide the chill necessary to break dormancy (when the fruit starts to mature).

Apricots grow best in areas where the fruit matures before the arrival of hot weather or in areas of moderate summer temperatures.

Apricots belong to the rose family, no wonder when they are ripe, they smell Great! There are as many as ten different varieties, but only two are majorly produced, Castlebrite and Patterson.

When buying fresh apricots, select plump, well formed fruit. The size of the fruit is anywhere from seven to twelve apricots per pound. Apricots colors range from a yellow to a golden-orange with a red blush. The aroma is intense and great and becomes more apparent with ripeness. To be at their best apricots must be picked when they are ripe and plump, but unfortunately that is when they are most fragile also.

Store apricots at room temperature and only refrigerate when you have to. Like all stone fruit, refrigeration dries out the fruit and makes it dry. If you have to refrigerate, store in a paper bag, not plastic and only for a day or two.

Apricots are very perishable and lose their flavor quickly, so please handle carefully. People enjoy the tart-sweet flavor and luscious texture of apricots, whether they eat them out of hand or in prepared dishes. Apricots add a taste of luxury to any meal. Cooks most readily think of apricots for desserts and salads, but they add zest to entrees, soups, salads, sauces, dressings, and beverages.

The season is short so enjoy while they last.

Recipes

Apricot Mousse

Fresh Apricot Ice Cream

Other recipes from Produce Pete.

   

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