A fruit that grows on apricot trees. They are about the size of plums, and are yellowish-orange like peaches. They have two hemispheres that can be split apart with your bare hands. You pick them off the tree, split them open, remove the pit, and eat them. They ripen in the spring, but my tree hasn't produced any in the last few years because the blossoms get killed by late frosts.

I was horrified recently to discover that few of the people I know have ever tasted a fresh apricot. Fresh apricots don’t ship well and their season is very limited. We now live so much out of season and eat from global sources that I suspect something that isn’t available everywhere and all the time is just another weird food.

Apricots do however dry well, and make lovely jams. These are more readily available and most of the same subset of folks I talked to have tried them.

Dried apricots are wonderful; delicious, chewy and tangy yums. They are relatively inexpensive, especially if purchased in bulk. They are available year round. Eaten with almonds they are one of my favorite “good for me” snacks. Anthropod points out that sulphur is sometimes used in the drying process to retain color and that it leaves a bad aftertaste. I was not aware of why some are better that others, this may be one reason. Sulphur is also a common allergen.

Fresh apricots are fragrant and juicy; more sweet than tart. They are transitory, available only in late Spring. It can be difficult to find good ones as they are frequently picked a bit immature despite the fact that they will not continue to ripen once picked. Only 20 % of apricots grown today make it to the market fresh. 1   They are a small, double hemispherical stone (pit) fruit, maybe 2 inches in diameter. The hemispheres do divide quite easily along the natural line and can be easily twisted open by hand as mentioned in LagMan's write up above. The skin is almost smooth, without the irritating fuzziness of a peach but with just a touch of texture beyond nectarines. They are a bit like both those fruits but really - not quite; apricots are unique.

With a tiny flight of the imagination apricots are VERY sensual. The skin feels like human skin, the shape is quite like a good-looking elf’s ass at just the right angle and they are almost as rare. Sweet and tart; apricots could easily replace peeled grapes in my book. Moving away from that aspect of sensual one of THE BEST sweet treat tastes is a good quality dried apricot half dipped in bittersweet chocolate. Ummmm Bluedragon promises that a good quality white chocolate is the way to dip for the real British pleasure bite!

To bring the little kidlets back into the picture I found this on a teacher’s forum:
"I learned this song as a little girl many years ago and I never hear anyone sing it. I am not sure how to describe the right tune to use but here it is...

Oh,...I looked out the window and what did I see, Popcorn popping on the apricot tree. Spring had brought me such a nice surprise, popcorn popping right before my eyes. I can take an armful and make a treat, a popcorn ball that would smell so sweet. It wasn't really so... but it seemed to be... Popcorn popping on the apricot tree.

This can be sang as a song or told as a fingerplay. I always use hand motions to fit the song such as: Put your hands together over your head to look like a tree or make your hands into fists and let your fingers burst out as though they are popcorn kernels bursting into popcorn, etc." 3

Apricot trees ("Prunus Armeniaca) (LINN.)Family: N.O. Rosacease") 9   can be tricky to grow; subject to loss of the bloom and/or fruit by frost but also requiring a cold winter dormancy period. They are also susceptible to disease and at times difficult to achieve successful pollination. 5  They then need a warm spring and summer with adequate moisture. Specialized nutritional needs further complicate their care. 8

Apricots are among the first fruits of summer, usually arriving a bit before local strawberries and about the time you see rhubarb in the produce section. 1   In my area this is usually late May to early June. The tree itself is relatively small, 10 to 25 feet high when mature. 2

On a personal note, when I was 7 or 8 I was a one-way tree climber. I could get up the apricot tree in our yard, but could never get down. Many a daddy rescue ensued removing me from what then seemed like a huge tree.

But on the "tricky to grow aspect"…it’s not always so, especially if perfection is not a goal. We moved into that house with the apricot tree and did nothing but “enjoy” climbing it and eating the fruit come May for the 6 years we lived there so don’t be put off trying an apricot tree in your yard!

Apricots are first reported to have been grown in China. They were also grown in ancient Rome “where the naturalist Pliny the Elder wrote of their merits”. Romans called them praecox, or ‘early’; this is the root of the English apricot – and precocious.” Today they are grown in almost all temperate zones. 1

The flowers rival the Japanese Cherries and crab apples of landscape popularity with the bonus of fruit to follow and quickly too!

Apricot pits are normally thought to be toxic if ingested and are the source of Laetrile. They are also ground up to a sand like consistency to be used in cosmetics as a exfoliating agent and in an even smaller grind to be used for fixing fragrances in potpourri.


SOURCES:
1 Martha Stewart magazine, May issue, 2003
2 http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/senior/fruits/apricot2.htm
3 http://www.perpetualpreschool.com/preschool_themes/spring/spring2.html
4 http://www.perpetualpreschool.com/preschool_themes/spring/spring2.html
5 http://gears.tucson.ars.ag.gov/book/chap5/apricot.html
6 http://www.lifeinkorea.com/culture/patterns/patterns.cfm?Subject=Plants
7 http://www.hetq.am/en/h-0203-duduk.html
8 http://www.npr.org/programs/talkingplants/why/archive/010628.html
9 Botanical.Com (Mrs. Grieves A Modern Botanical - online)
10 http://www.abeechey.com/B-Apricot.jpg (an amusing little photograph)


Killio says Del Monte makes a very delicious jar of apricots in light syrup, that taste very fresh and delicious. Have you tried these (Dole has a similar product)? and how does it compare to fresh apricots?

A"pri*cot, n. [OE. apricock, abricot, F. abricot, fr. Sp. albaricoque or Pg. albricoque, fr. Ar. albirqq, al-burqq. Though the E. and F. form abricot is derived from the Arabic through the Spanish, yet the Arabic word itself was formed from the Gr. , pl. (Diosc. c. 1000) fr. L. praecoquus, praecox, early ripe. The older E. form apricock was prob. taken direct from Pg. See Precocious, Cook.] Bot.

A fruit allied to the plum, of an orange color, oval shape, and delicious taste; also, the tree (Prunus Armeniaca of Linnaeus) which bears this fruit. By cultivation it has been introduced throughout the temperate zone.

 

© Webster 1913.

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