Apricots are thought to have originated in China and have been growing there for more than 4,000 years. They then made their way into the Persian Empire and the Mediterranean. Apricots now thrive in most temperate climates, with California producing about 90 percent of the American crop.
Spanish explorers introduced the fruit to the New World, specifically to California, where apricots were planted in the gardens of Spanish missionaries. The first major recorded production of apricots dates to 1972, in an area south of San Francisco.
Apricots can be consumed directly, or dried and then eaten as a variety of dried fruit. They are also used in the preparation of various juices, jams, and jellies.
Apricot oil can be obtained from the kernel of the apricot and those powerful essential oils have many important impacts on health.
When choosing apricots, choose ones that are soft but not too soft; otherwise it may be overripe. Consider when you plan to eat or cook the apricots, and let that determine what's too firm or soft.
Apricots should be stored at room temperature until ripe and then kept in the fridge in a plastic bag or bin for three to five days. When storing, be sure to keep them out of direct sunlight.
Add sliced apricots to hot or cold cereal.
The next time you make whole grain pancakes add some chopped apricots to the batter.
Give a Middle Eastern flavor to chicken or vegetable stews with the addition of dried, diced apricots.
When fresh apricots are in season, slice them into a green salad.
Look for fruits with a rich orange color and avoid those that are pale and yellow. Fruits should be slightly soft. If they are too firm, they have not been tree-ripened, and tree-ripened fruits always taste best. For the most antioxidants, choose fully ripened fruit.
The kernels of the apricot pits are used in confections and to flavor liqueurs. Like bitter almonds, apricot kernels are poisonous until roasted.
Generally, fresh apricots reach their full potential when cooked -- roasted, poached, sauteed or incorporated into baked goods. Warming them brings both their sweetness and tartness to the fore.
Apricots are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C, copper, dietary fiber, and potassium.
Apricots contain significant amounts of both insoluble and soluble fiber, but are especially high in soluble fiber, which promotes and helps maintain healthy blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
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