An apricot is a kind of fruit. Its skin is firm and has a very deep, golden orange color. It is known to be quite juicy, sweet in flavor, and fragrant. The apricot has also been recognized as a good source of vitamins, particularly Vitamin A and C, as well as calcium, iron, potassium and phosphorus. Those who are watching their weight and diet will also be happy to know that the fruit is low in calories, fat and sodium.
Though apricots are now cultivated all over the world, it is believed to have originated from China. Traders, as well as the Spanish explorers, introduced the fruit to the rest of the world. It was widely cultivated in California, thanks to the Spanish missions who grew the fruit in the monastery orchards. However, the fruit was only grown in mass quantities in the 1700s; the first records reflect large apricot harvests in 1792 in the San Francisco area.
Today, California is still recognized as the United States’ biggest supplier of apricots. Its apricot orchards (estimated at a total of 21,000 acres) provides 95% of the country’s apricots. The state’s sunny climate is ideal for raising the fruit.
Horticulturists have also developed several varieties of apricots, developing sweeter varieties with firmer skin, and have a lower tendency to bruise or rot during shipping. The varieties differ in color, size and even flavor. For example,
The Poppy, Castlebrite and Ambercot are medium in size, while the Tomcot, Tilton and Katy are larger. Some are sweet, while others have a sharper and tarter flavor. The apricots ripen in the orchard and are usually ready for harvest by the middle of May. This continues for two months.
Apricots can be eaten fresh, or preserved in syrup. Some have found a way to make apricot wine.