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.
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.
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.