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Apricots


Apricots

Storage

Apricots should be stored in your refrigerator.

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Origins and Culture

apricot is a well-traveled member of the Rose family, along with apples, pears, peaches, and other stone fruits. As we see over and over again, the journey through time of a prized fruit, like the apricot, is the journey of civilization itself, and the carefully preserved cultivar is about as good a symbol of high culture as any other.

Apricots have grown wild in the mountains of north-western China, near the Russian border, for about 5,000 years. They have been cultivated for about as long. The Romans introduced apricots to Europe in 70-60 BC through Greece and Italy. King Henry VII's gardener imported apricot seedlings to England in the 1500's, and grew them in protected, walled gardens. The Frasciscan brothers brought apricots to California some 200-300 years ago.

The so-called Language of Flowers was a Victorian-era means of subtle communication, in which various flowers and floral arrangements were used to send coded messages, usually romantic messages which otherwise could not be spoken. And so borage, for instance, meant courage, especially the courage to speak from the heart. Daisies meant innocence. Corriander meant lust. And the apricot flower? Well, let's just say it meant you were harbouring doubts... more often than not, as these things tend to go, as a prelude to disappointment!

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

These fragile peach-like fruits contain impressive amounts of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, potassium, and offer a good supply of fiber. Dried apricots contain a concentrated amount of the same nutrients. Apricots, both fresh and dried, contain natural salicylate [an aspirin-like compound], which may cause an allergic response in sensitive people.

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How it is grown and when it is in season

Apricots have been called a temperamental plant because they bloom early, and are highly susceptible to a late frost. Maybe this is where the plant gets its emotional designation within the Language of Flowers, as if the wary lover is afraid that some budding affection felt for another will not last the whole season. But many heartier cultivars have been developed. Some have even been bred to suit the climate of southern Ontario. Unfortunately, apricots are not able to endure the intense insect pressure of the Niagara Peninsula, and so there are no organic Ontario apricots.

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Basic Cooking Instructions

For main dishes, apricots pair well with lamb, rice pilaf, bulgar [cracked] wheat, as in middle eastern cooking. They also marry well with ham, chicken or duck, and are particularly suitable in stuffings or glazes.
Apricots cook beautifully in sauces, jellies, jams, and chutneys. Bake them into pies, tarts, cakes, and dumplings or enjoy them with ice cream, in fruit salads, or a cereal topper. On their own, dried or fresh, apricots make a healthy, delicious addition to almost any menu.

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