Nutrition: One cup of raw halves contains about 74 calories, mostly in carbohydrates from natural sugars. One whole large apricot has less than 50 calories. Very high in vitamins A and C, apricots are considered a good source of fiber and potassium. Apricots also are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Selection: Look for apricots with full yellow to orange color and not a touch of green. The flesh should yield to gentle pressure and not feel hard. The fruit should smell ripe with a bright aroma. Avoid fruit that looks brown, bruised, soft or mushy.
Apricots bruise easily and do not travel well. Always treat them like eggs – very gently! Don’t drop them into a bag or bucket – they’ll have brown spots when you get home.
Storage: Apricots continue to ripen after harvest. Leave them on the kitchen counter at room temperature out of direct sunlight to let them soften.
If very hard, place them in a brown paper bag, punched with a few holes, for a day or two. Keep at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Check at least twice a day; they ripen quickly inside that bag. Once soft, they can be stored in the refrigerator crisper bin for up to a week.
Preparation: Nothing beats a fully ripe fresh apricot, straight off the tree. But they can be cooked in many ways, too. Apricots can substitute for peaches in most recipes including savory dishes.
Freezing: Cut fruit into halves, discard pits and dip halves into ascorbic acid solution (or 1 cup water with 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice) to prevent discoloration. Place halves in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once they’re solid, transfer halves to airtight bags or containers to store in the freezer; they’ll keep at least three months. Fruit also can be packed in sugar or light syrup and frozen for up to one year.
What’s an aprium?: Pioneered by Floyd Zaiger, these apricot-plum complex hybrids offer another dimension of flavor for fruit lovers. Genetically, apriums tend to be three-fourths apricot, one-fourth plum, but take after their apricot parentage. The trees bear early in the season and the fruit tends to be golden or with a red blush, looking like a large juicy apricot. Unlike apricots, apriums tend not to ripen off the tree.