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What is an Apricot?

By Garry Crystal
Updated May 16, 2024
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An apricot is a small sweet fruit with a golden orange color. A ripe apricot can be recognized by its fairly firm skin, and it will be plump and juicy when it is at its best. The apricot has a delicate aroma and is an excellent source of Vitamins A (beta-carotene) and C. Apricots are also a good source of iron, potassium, phosphorus and calcium.

The apricot originally came from China. Cuttings from the apricot made their way from the Persian Empire to the Mediterranean. Credit can be given to the Spanish explorers for the introduction of the apricot to the New World; the fruit flourished in the gardens of Spanish missions in California. The first major production of apricots was recorded in 1792 in an area of San Francisco.

Today, over 400 growers in 21,000 acres of orchards in northern California produce apricots. Almost 95% of the apricots grown in the United States come from California. There are a wide variety of apricots grown in California, each with their own specific characteristics. Growers are continually experimenting to produce new varieties that have sweet, juicy flavors and that process and ship well.

The apricot harvest usually begins in mid-May and lasts for around two months. The ripe fruit can be kept longer if refrigerated. The ideal way to ripen very firm apricots is to keep them at room temperature or to place them in a paper bag with a banana or an apple.

There are many different types of apricot. The Poppy, Castlebrite and Ambercot are medium sized fruits with varying skin tones and flavors. The Tomcot, Tilton and Katy are larger apricots, again with different skin tones and flavors. There are many more types of apricot, with flavors ranging from sweet to tart.

Apricots can be sliced or halved and frozen in syrup. They are also great for making brandy or wine. They are delicious eaten whole and fresh, and the good news is they are low in sodium, calories and fat, so there is no need to feel guilty no matter how many you eat.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon35944 — On Jul 08, 2009

My first year for growing apricots. They are slowly turning orange but are still very hard. When are the apricots ready to pick? And if we pick the orange colored ones do we also pick the greener ones and let them ripen at room temp somewhere?

By catapult43 — On Jul 05, 2008

I just bought black apricots. These are California grown, but I do not know if they are grown in other parts of the country too. They must be a hybrid of apricots and plums. The skin is slightly fuzzy and the inside is plum/orange. They are juicy, meaty, and oh so sweet. An absolutely great discovery.

By anon13690 — On Jun 02, 2008

how many different kinds of apricots are there?

By anon12631 — On May 11, 2008

Can apricots be composted? How many types of apricot in the world?

By anon1617 — On Jun 08, 2007

What is he best way to freeze apricots? I've heard that they can be pitted & frozen in halves. Do I have to add fruitfresh or a syrup?

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