Everything You Need to Know About Apricots
Apricots are small stone fruits that are related to peaches. These beautiful fruits have skins that range in colour from pale yellow to a deep orange. Their soft, juicy flesh can be found in golden cream or vibrant orange colours.
Apricots are delicious eaten out of hand, and are also very popular as an ingredient in baked goods because they hold their shape well. They can typically be found in markets from May through July.
Apricot varieties will range in sweetness, size, and colour. The most common ones you’ll see in Canadian grocers include Alex, Benmore, Cluthafire, Dunstan, Gabriel, Mascot, and Vulcan.
How to Select and Store Apricots
When selecting apricots, choose fruits that are plump and firm, but yield to gentle pressure. Avoid apricots with green hues, bruises, cuts or dents.
Apricots will continue to ripen if left at room temperature. To hasten the ripening process, store in a paper bag out of the sunlight. Once ripened, store in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to three days.
To freeze apricots, wash the fruit well in cool water, and then cut in half to remove the pits. Apricots are best frozen when halved or sliced. In order to preserve the soft texture of the fruit, be sure to peel the halves or slices before freezing.
If you prefer to keep the skin on, blanch the cut apricots for about 30 seconds to soften the skins, then plunge into an ice bath before freezing. This process prevents the skin from becoming tough in the freezer.
To prevent browning in the freezer, dissolve ¼ tsp. of ascorbic acid (from your local health food store) with 3 tbsp. of cold water and sprinkle over 1 quart of fruit. In a freezer safe container, mix ½ cup sugar per 1 quart of fruit and stir until sugar is dissolved. Alternatively add some orange juice to keep them from drying out. Pack tightly into plastic containers, leaving 1-inch (2.5-cm) air space at top. Top with a crumpled sheet of wax paper to keep the fruit under the liquid and seal tightly. Freeze for up to 12 months.
How to Prepare Apricots
Wash apricots in cool water just before eating. Feel free to bite into apricots as you would an apple or a peach, but be mindful to avoid the pit.
Alternatively, you can cut them in half by running a knife along the natural divot of the fruit. Simply split in half, remove the pit, and enjoy.
- Take advantage of peak apricot season and freeze or preserve apricots to enjoy later in the year. This jam from A Canadian Foodie looks simple and delicious!
- We think the authors at Toronto-based food blog Well Preserved might be onto something with this recipe for Rumtopf – which includes apricots!
- Apricots oxidize quickly, so drizzle a bit of lemon juice over cut portions to avoid discolouration.
- In a pinch, you can use a spoon instead of a knife to half the apricots and take out the pit.
- Apricots can ripen quite quickly if you store them in a paper bag (out of sunlight). Be sure you check on them each day so that you can enjoy them as soon as they’re ripe!
- Bakers often use apricot jam as a filling in layer cakes or under fondant icing, to provide moisture. Try making your own, like this recipe from Simple Bites.
Apricots go well with
Produce: lemon, pineapple, orange, carrots, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, plums, cherries, lime, cranberry, arugula, spinach, coconut, pears, and apples
Dairy: cream cheese, cream, whipped cream, crème fraîche, Brie, mild soft cheese like mozzarella, yogurt, and goat cheese
Herbs, Spices, & Sweets: ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, thyme, curry, basil, mint, honey, chocolate, white wines, white chocolate, custard, and balsamic vinegar
Savoury: lamb, chicken, pork, almonds, salmon, walnuts, cashews, oats, prosciutto, and bacon
Apricot and custard go very well together, especially in flaky pastries like these Danish-inspired ones.
Use apricots to make a tangy marmalade or chutney recipe, like this pear apricot chutney from Canadian Living.
Grilled halved apricots are a delicious addition to your favourite salads. Try this twist on an Italian classic: grilled apricot caprese salad. Or turn it into a fancy appetizer for entertaining guests. Wow them with a gorgeous grilled apricot crostini.
According to the Canadian Nutrient File, 100 g of apricots (about 3 whole apricots) contain a great number of your daily-recommended intake of nutrients: 28% of Vitamin A, 17% of Vitamin C, 8% of fibre (2 g), 7% of potassium, 4% of Vitamin K, 4% of magnesium, 3% of iron, 89 µg of antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthan, and 104 µg of antioxidant beta cryptozanthin.