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Apricots

Apricots

Known for its sweet taste and firm pulp, the apricot can add a bright note to breakfasts and enrich meat dishes at dinner time.

Nutritional Highlights

  • Vitamin A? Yes, please! A little less than a cup of apricot slices — or 140 grams' worth — gives you 50 percent of your Daily Value of this essential nutrient, which promotes good eyesight.
  • Apricots are a source of vitamin C, an essential antioxidant that helps repair body tissue and heal wounds.
  • This fruit also contains fiber and potassium. And when they're dried, apricots contain vital minerals such as iron in greater concentrations than when fresh.

History

Who can resist an apricot? These plump, orangey-yellow bulbs taste like a slightly heavier peach, which is why we humans have been gobbling them up for at least 4,000 years. After making their way from China to Persia and Europe, apricots crossed the ocean and sprang up around Spanish missions in California. Today, almost all U.S. apricots grow in the state's San Joaquin Valley.

Varieties

There are dozens of apricot varieties available in supermarkets. For the most part, these are all subtle variations on the fruit's flavor, color, size or peak date. Tilton apricots, for example, are large, tart and mature in late June, while Castlebrites are medium-sized, sweet and mature in late May.

When are Apricots in Season?

Because of greenhouse cultivation and imports, you can usually get your hands on all the apricots you can handle at any time of year.

How to Choose Apricots

A good, ripe apricot will feel firm, with some give in its flesh. Choose apricots that are a rich orange or deep gold, since paler fruits will take some time to ripen. Avoid apricots that are greenish, bruised, wrinkled or rock-hard.

How to Store Apricots

To ripen, apricots need to be kept at room temperature. This means firmer apricots should be kept in a cupboard, pantry or fruit bowl until their flesh has some spring in it. Once apricots are ripe, slice them up for recipes or eat them raw, but put unused ripe ones in the fridge to preserve them for a few extra days.

How to Cook with Apricots

The first thing you'll need to do, after washing your apricots, is to remove the pit. To do so, slice the fruit in half with a sharp paring knife and twist the apricot open. Then pop the pit out and slice your fruit into sections. Apricot cubes make an excellent addition to shish kabobs - simply skewer them alongside meat, peppers and onions, then grill over an open flame. Or if you'd like to try broiling apricot halves, just place them skin-side down on a cooking sheet and slide them in the oven for 10 minutes.

Key Measurements

Most recipes use whole cups (sliced), though some can call for individual apricots.

Substitutions

The best replacement for an apricot is a peach or nectarine. You might try tomato slices instead, if you're grilling.

Apricots in Recipes

Set your summer cookout to stun with these mouthwatering Healthified Apricot-Chicken Kabobs, which include snap peas, pineapple cubes and sweet red peppers.

Or for a sophisticated indoor meal, serve Apricot-Pistachio Rolled Pork brushed with brandy and topped with preserves and chopped nuts.

Finally, give your guests a real treat with crispy, golden-brown Strawberry-Apricot-Oat Squares served hot from the oven.

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