Do apricots ripen after picking

Apricots Do Not Ripen: Why Do My Apricots Stay Green On Tree

While apricot trees generally have few pest or disease issues, they are notable for dropping immature fruit — that is apricot fruit not ripe falling from the tree. If you are lucky enough to have an apricot tree in your yard, you may wonder, “Why do my apricots stay green” and what can be done with apricots that do not ripen?

Why Do My Apricots Stay Green?

It can be difficult to determine why apricots aren’t ripening on the tree, but there’s a good chance the tree is experiencing some sort of stress. For example, stress can be caused by unseasonably hot, dry weather. In the absence of rainfall, apricots need a good soaking every 10 days. Stress can also be caused by lack of sunlight. Be sure the variety is suitable for your USDA growing zone.

Watch for signs of disease, including limb dieback, cankers, leaking sap or sparse, light-colored foliage.

Let’s talk a bit about growing an apricot tree in general. Apricots bloom early and are easily killed off by late frosts. Most apricots are self-fertile, but fruit set is much better when one or two other varieties are planted in close proximity. The trees will not start bearing fruit until the third or fourth growing season, at which point a dwarf variety should yield one to two bushels and a standard size tree about three to four bushels.

Apricots like to be in full sun and planted in most any soil provided it is well draining. Look for a dormant, bare root, year-old tree to plant in early spring, or in the fall if you live in a mild climate. Space standard size trees 25 feet apart and dwarf varieties about 8 to 12 feet apart.

Prune the apricot tree annually to encourage fruiting. When fruit is one inch in diameter, thin to three to four per cluster to promote greater fruit size and prevent overbearing, which will result in minimal fruit the following year.

What to Do With Unripe Apricots

Apricots ripen at different times on the tree. The fruit from Prunus armeniaca can be picked when it is fully colored even if it is still fairly hard. Apricots do ripen once removed from the tree if they are colored; apricots do not ripen when they are green. They will remain hard, green and flavorless. Fruits picked when colored and with a slight give to the skin can be ripened at room temp — not in the refrigerator — with some space between the fruit. Turn the fruit occasionally as it ripens. Of course, for the sweetest flavor, the fruit should be ripened on the tree if possible.

You can also place unripe fruit in a paper bag, which will trap the naturally emitted ethylene gas and hasten ripening. Adding an apple or banana will really accelerate this process. Be sure to keep the bag in a cool, dry place; a warm area will cause the fruit to spoil. Also, don’t place the fruit in plastic bags, as again, the apricots will likely rot. The resulting ripened fruit should be used quickly as it will only remain fresh for one to two days.

If you have apricots that are not ripening on the tree, you may have a later harvesting variety. Most apricot varietals ripen in early summer, a few late in the spring, but a couple of types are not ready for harvest until late in the summer. Also, fruit ripens earlier on well-thinned trees, so pruning may be a factor with unripe fruit.

Ripening Guide

How to tell when apricots are ripe: When the fruit has turned a golden, orange colour, has a strong, sweet smell, and is firm but has a bit of give when gently squeezed. If the apricots feel like rocks or are still greenish, let them continue to ripen on the tree.

Apricots will ripen after they’ve been picked and there are a few advantages to picking them when they are still a little underripe: you can get the fruit before the wildlife do (including hungry neighbours); and the fruit is less fragile when picked and transported underripe.

When to submit a pick request: We’ll need some advance notice to schedule your pick, so please submit a fruit pick request 3-5 days before your fruit is ready. Apricots ripen quickly so monitor them daily when they begin to yellow. A good time to submit your request is when most of the apricots have just lost their green hue and are beginning to soften.

Why is my fruit dropping? Apricots can drop off the tree before they are ready for harvest. This is often a built in safety mechanism if the tree produces a larger than normal number of blossoms. If too many of the flowers are pollinated, the tree will produce a large amount of fruit and drop some of it to lighten the load. Fruit can also drop because of apricot scab. If this is the case, brown scabs will form on the fruit.

Picking tips: Pick each fruit individually by hand or with picking poles, and separate fruit from the stem. Leave the green apricots on the tree to ripen further. Apricots bruise easily so be careful when picking and handling them, especially when using picking poles.

Storage tips: Underripe apricots can ripen on the counter or in a paper bag. Fold the bag and keep at room temperature for up to three weeks. When those little guys are golden in colour and pass the squeeze test (not too hard, not too mushy), place them in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy them.

Ripe apricots need to be stored in a refrigerator and will last up to a week. Apricots will not continue to ripen in the fridge, so make sure they are fully ripe before chilling.

Overripe apricots won’t last long, even if refrigerated. If your apricots are bruised, mushy, or otherwise damaged, don’t worry! They can be processed into delicious sauces, pies, and other baked goods!

Pruning Tips:

Heavy pruning is needed to keep the apricot tree producing. The best shape to keep your tree in is low and wide-spreading with no long branches. The basic idea of pruning an apricot tree is to allow space in the middle to let light come in. If you’re standing in the centre of the tree you want to look up and see nothing but clear blue sky! If you allow the centre of an apricot to close-up it will only fruit on the outside, and so you reduce the amount of fruit you’ll get. You want the middle of the tree to look like a mixing bowl. A good place to start is by clearing the centre of the tree.

Follow the tips outlined in Pruning 101. Remove the 3Ds: dead damaged and diseased wood, and follow the CAC rule: remove any crossing, acute, and clustering branches. If in doubt, prune it out! The less interior branches you have, the better fruit you’ll have.

Prune back all of last year’s growth to about 50% of its length. Make sure to prune to an outward facing bud. By pruning to an outward bud at the middle of the branch, leaving 50-60% of the new growth, you’ll have the most fruitful buds left at the outside of the tree.

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There are two apricots you must simply eat out of hand: ‘Blenheim’ is a medium to large, sweet and aromatic, and very juicy apricot with a classic apricot flavor; ‘Moorpark’ is a large, sweet, aromatic, and juicy apricot with a rich plum-like taste.

You will find dozens of varieties of just picked apricots to choose from at your farm market in late spring and on into summer, but ‘Blenheim’ and ‘Moorpark’ deserve your attention.

Once you have enjoyed these two universally acclaimed apricots eaten out of hand, you can then take apricots to the next level: they are delicious in hot and cold desserts, cakes, pastries, fruit salads, ices, preserves, jams, and conserves.

The apricot, like the cherry, is among the very earliest blooming fruits each year. Apricot blossoms must survive late winter winds, rains, and frost to set fruit. That means an apricot harvest every year is no sure thing. And apricots once harvested need to be eaten or prepared in short order; their shelf life is brief.

It’s little wonder then that the word “apricot” is derived from the Latin word praecocia which means “precious.” Enjoy apricots while you can!

There are more than 40 varieties of apricots almost all of which grow in warm climates. Some apricot hybrids and interspecies hybrids such as peachcots, plumcots, and cherrycots have been adapted to cooler regions, but most apricots grow in the near Mediterranean latitudes that stretch from Italy through Turkey and Iran to the southern Himalayas to southern China, Japan, Australia, and on to California.

The apricot tree can grow to more than 30 feet (9 m) tall. Its flowers and fruit develop directly from the tree’s trunk and branches. The apricot is a stone fruit that requires a cold winter for rest and a warm summer to ripen the fruit. Most apricots have velvety pale orange skin and dry flesh. As the apricot ripens its edible downy skin becomes smooth. A ripe apricot is sweet, fragrant, and delicately flavored with very little juice.

Apricot varieties can be divided into early harvest, mid-season harvest, and late harvest. The ‘Blenheim’ is an early harvest apricot beginning in spring and the ‘Moorpark’ is a mid-season harvest fruit ready for picking in late spring and early summer. Late harvest apricots are ready after the middle of summer.

Choosing Apricots to Serve

Select apricots that are golden orange and plump, not too soft and not too hard.

Apricots that are soft and ripe will have the best flavor, but they must be used immediately.

Avoid apricots that are pale yellow or greenish-yellow, too firm, shriveled or bruised, or with whitish spots, cracks or blemishes, although blemishes will not affect the flavor.

Store. Refrigerate ripe apricots unwashed in a paper or plastic bag for up to 2 days. If the fruit is not ripe, you can ripen it by placing it in a closed paper bag at room temperature for a few days before eating. They will be ripe when they give to gentle pressure. Pack apricots lightly to avoid the spread of mold.

You can freeze apricots. First, blanch them for 30 seconds—which will make them easier to peel later—and remove the pits which can leave a bitter taste. Very ripe apricots can be frozen in stewed or puréed form.

Prepare. Wash apricots before using them. The flesh of cut apricots will darken rapidly when exposed to air. To avoid discoloration, sprinkle cut apricots with citrus juice if they are not to be eaten immediately.

Serving Apricots

Serve apricots raw on their own or sliced and added to fruit salads and green salads. You can cook apricots in the same manner as peaches and nectarines. Apricots are interchangeable with peaches and nectarines in most recipes.

  • Use apricots in cakes, pies, sorbets, ice cream, yogurt, and crêpes. Use apricots to make savory jams and chutneys. Press apricots to make juice. Poach apricots with sugar and water and purée to make a dessert sauce.
  • Preserve apricots in brandy and syrup. Apricots can be macerated in alcohol, candied, canned or dried.
  • Apricot kernels can be baked or roasted similar to almonds.

Flavor partners. Apricots have a flavor affinity for Bavarian cream, cardamom, lamb, orange, pork, poultry, and vanilla.

Nutrition. Apricots are high in vitamin A and rich in potassium. They are a good source of vitamin C. Dried apricots are a good source of copper and magnesium.

Apricots facts and trivia. Apricots are native to China. The Chinese cultivated apricots before 2,000 B.C. From China, apricots were carried by silk traders into ancient India and Persia and on to the region of ancient Armenia. Alexander the Great found apricots in ancient Armenia. The apricot’s botanical name armeniac—meaning from Armenia–came after Alexander introduced apricots to the western world. The apricot reached Italy in 100 B.C.

The ancient Romans cultivated apricots but were not successful in introducing them to northern Europe. The apricot variety ‘Bredase’ may be the oldest variety in cultivation having been described by the Romans. Apricots were introduced to Britain in the thirteenth century but did not catch on until the sixteenth century. The first apricot came to the American colonies in 1720.

The botanical name of apricots is Prunus armeniaca.

Also of interest:

Apricot Tart Recipe

How to Plant, Grow, Prune, and Harvest Apricots

Apricot Varieties to Grow

Ripening Apricots on and off the Tree

When Are Apricots Ripe and Ready for Harvest?

Apricots trees flower in late February or early March, and the flowers develop into ripe fruit in 100 to 120 days after bloom for most varieties. However, apricot trees need to grow for three to four years before they begin fruiting.

The fruit on apricot trees does not ripen all at once. Some fruits are ready to pick while other fruits are still green, so plan on harvesting apricots over a three-week time span, picking ripe fruit and letting the others remain for a bit longer.

Apricots have the most flavor and best texture when they are ripened on the tree, and because they are so delicate, tree-ripened fruit is hard to find in the grocery store. This makes growing apricots at home especially rewarding, because it is the only way of having this delicious fruit picked at its prime.

The way to know apricots are fully ripe is to watch the color of the fruit carefully. As they ripen, the color changes from green to yellow to a deeper yellow-orange. Also, the flesh of ripe fruit gives slightly when you squeeze it.

Factors Affecting Ripening of Apricots

If you have an apricot tree with fruit that does not seem to ripen up correctly, there are several possible causes.

  • Make sure you are watering and caring for the tree adequately. When apricot trees are stressed, fruit may not ripen properly.
  • Thin the fruits when they are approximately 1 inch (2.5cm) in diameter, leaving three or four fruits in each cluster. By thinning out excess fruit, the tree can devote its energy to fully maturing and ripening the remaining fruit.
  • Prune apricot trees in late winter for best fruit production. Pruning encourages new fruit-bearing growth and removes excess leaves which can shade out fruit, lengthening the time it takes for fruit to ripen fully.
  • While most varieties of apricot are ripe and ready for harvest in June and July, there are a few which take longer to mature. Check on the days-to-maturity of fruit for the variety you are growing.

If you pick some of your apricots a little early and want to ripen them a bit more, place them in a paper bag on the kitchen counter along with an apple. Apples give off ethylene gas, which hastens fruit ripening.

Stalking The Elusive, Worthy Apricot

Domenica Marchetti for NPR Domenica Marchetti for NPR

Get recipes for Strawberry-Apricot Pie, Broiled Apricots With Honey Mascarpone, Apricot-Anise Jam and Cheryl’s Apricot Frangipane Galette.

Apricots are the finest of summer’s fruits, with dense, juicy flesh and delicate, velvety skins. Piled in baskets in farmers market stalls, they seem to glow in the early morning light. The prettiest ones have a celestial blush and a sweet, floral fragrance.

That’s why it is so disheartening when you bite into one only to find it is mealy and flavorless. I can’t count the number of times this apricot lover has been the victim of just such an injustice. You probably have been, too.

I grew up eating apricots by the kilo during summers spent in Italy. I could not get enough of their intense flavor, of prying them open and biting into their sweet-tart meaty interiors. I liked them better than I liked gelato (OK — maybe that’s a stretch, but not by much).

About The Author

Domenica Marchetti is the author of five books on Italian cooking, including The Glorious Pasta of Italy and, forthcoming this fall, The Glorious Vegetables of Italy. She is the co-founder of American Food Roots, a website that explores why we eat what we eat. She also blogs about Italian home cooking at www.domenicacooks.com.

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Finding worthy apricots this side of the Atlantic has been a challenge, especially since I am not in California, the source of about 95 percent of commercially grown U.S. apricots. By the time they make their way over to Virginia, where I live, I suspect any celestial qualities have been jostled out of them. Having been burned many times, I am now reluctant to pay upwards of $6 a pound at fancy grocery stores for apricots that don’t deliver.

In recent years I’ve had some luck at my weekly farmers market, where the locally grown apricots, in season in late June and early July, are flavorful and juicy, if not quite as spectacular as those I remember from my childhood.

It took the apricot a long time — centuries — to get to my market. It’s an ancient fruit, the origins of which can be traced back to pre-biblical times. It was first cultivated in the mountains of Northeastern China as early as 2200 B.C., according to food historian Waverly Root. From there it traveled to Mesopotamia (it was said to grow in the hanging gardens of Babylon) and the Mediterranean. Spanish missionaries are credited with bringing the apricot to California in the 18th century.

Apricot trees require a temperate climate to thrive, Root says, with a cool winter allowing for a dormant period. However, the tree blooms early and is highly susceptible to frost, which can make it difficult to cultivate.

There are many varieties of apricots, with colorful names such as Lorna, Ambercot, Blenheim and Goldbar. Some are large and plush and uniformly orange-colored and some are small, with a rosy cast. Then there are the new hybrids such as red velvet, with its near-black skin — actually a cross between an apricot and a plum.

Apricots are best when picked ripe from the tree. While it’s easy to tell if an apricot is ripe, it can be tough to tell whether it’s good. Look for fruits that have a deep orange-gold color rather than those that are pale orange or yellow. They should be plump and firm, with just a little softness to them. If they’re hard, they’re not ripe; if they’re squishy, they’ve gone too far. Ripe apricots have a lovely, unmistakable floral fragrance, so give it the sniff test.

Having said all that, there have been times, usually in grocery stores, where I thought I was buying decent apricots and have been sorely disappointed when I took a bite. You’re likely to have better luck at a farmers market that sells locally grown fruit. Taste a sample if you can; it’s really the only way to know for sure.

Besides being delicious, apricots are packed with nutrition — vitamins A and C, plus fiber and potassium. In the kitchen, they are versatile, and as much as I love them (the good ones) raw, cooking them caramelizes their sugars and deepens their flavor, making them even more delightful. They are as comfortable sidled up to a roast as they are nestled in a sweet pastry crust. In savory dishes they go especially well with lamb, pork and chicken.

But I like them best on the sweet side, in a pie or tart, or cooked down to a thick, glossy jam. The sweet, flowery aroma of that jam cooking on the stove top takes me right back to the carefree days of childhood summer. It’s a good place to be.

Recipe: Strawberry-Apricot Pie

Domenica Marchetti for NPR Domenica Marchetti for NPR

For a brief moment in early summer, strawberry and apricot seasons overlap. That is when you should — must — make this pie. It’s a harmony of sweet and tangy flavors, set off by a buttery crust. Plus, the filling, when baked, is the color of a tropical sunset.

It was not my genius idea to put these two fruits together. For that I must credit the Roches, a trio of folk-singing sisters who, years ago, wrote a song called “The Troubles,” which includes the lyrics, “I hope they have health food in Dublin, and strawberry-apricot pie. If they don’t have those things in Dublin, we’ll probably die.”

A hearty thanks to the Roches for the inspiration.

Makes one 9-inch pie

Crust


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


1 teaspoon fine sea salt


2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces


About 5 tablespoons ice-cold water

Filling

3 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered lengthwise

3 cups diced fresh apricots (no need to peel)


2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


1 cup sugar


1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour


1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

To make the crust, combine the flour and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse briefly. Scatter the butter around the work bowl and pulse until the mixture has formed coarse crumbs. With the motor running, drizzle in the water and process just until the dough begins to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into two disks, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, gently mix together the strawberries, apricots, lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll the larger piece into an 11-inch disk and gently press it into a 9-inch pie plate, leaving the overhang. Spoon the filling into the pastry-lined pie plate. Roll the smaller piece of dough into a 10-inch disk and, using a fluted pastry wheel, cut the disk into 10 (3/4-inch-thick) strips. Arrange the strips over the filling in a lattice pattern and trim off the ends. Fold the overhang over and pinch it to seal it and form a decorative rim.

Set the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the crust is golden-brown and the filling is bubbly and thick. Serve warm with a little cold heavy cream poured over each slice or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Recipe: Broiled Apricots With Honey Mascarpone

Domenica Marchetti for NPR Domenica Marchetti for NPR

This is the dish to trot out when you have no time to make dessert but still want to serve one. It takes less than 10 minutes to assemble from start to finish but I can assure you no one will be disappointed. Broiling the apricots concentrates their sweet-tart flavor. A dollop of honey mascarpone on top adds just a touch of richness. If restraint is your thing, use non-fat Greek yogurt in place of the mascarpone.

Makes 4 servings

8 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

2 tablespoons honey

6 ripe apricots

2 tablespoons butter, cut into 12 pieces

2 tablespoons sugar

Dash of cinnamon

Position an oven rack 4 inches from the broiler and turn the broiler on.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and honey until well-blended. Set aside.

Gently pry the apricots in half or use a paring knife to split them open. Remove and discard the pits.

Set the apricot halves, cut side up, on a small, rimmed baking sheet or shallow broiler pan. Place a piece of butter in each of the apricot cavities. Sprinkle the sugar on the apricot halves and sprinkle a little cinnamon over each half.

Broil the apricot halves for 3 minutes, or until the sugar begins to caramelize and the apricots are just beginning to char around the edges. Remove from the oven.

Spoon the apricots, three halves per person, into dessert bowls and top each serving with a dollop of honey mascarpone. Serve while still warm.

Recipe: Apricot-Anise Jam

Domenica Marchetti for NPR Domenica Marchetti for NPR

If you are new to jam making, apricots are a great fruit to start with. You don’t have to peel them as their thin skin melts away during cooking. And there is no need to add the jelling agent pectin, since the fruit thickens nicely on its own. The optional addition of aniseed in this recipe imparts a delicate licorice note to the sweet-tart flavor of the apricots. Spread this jam on your morning toast, or use it to make jam cookies, a jam tart or, on the savory side, to glaze a pork roast.

Makes about 1 pint (2 cups)

1 1/2 pounds ripe apricots (12-14 medium)

3/4 to 1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons orange or lemon juice

3 small strips of lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon aniseed

A 3-inch-by-3-inch square of cheesecloth

Cut the apricots in half and remove the pits. Cut each half into 4 pieces and put the pieces in a heavy-bottomed nonreactive pot. (I use an enamel-coated cast-iron pot.) Sprinkle 3/4 cup sugar over the apricots and add the orange or lemon juice and the lemon peel. Gently stir to combine.

Mound the aniseed on the square of cheesecloth and tie it into a bundle with kitchen string. Toss the bundle into the pot.

Set the pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until most of the fruit has broken down and the mixture has begun to thicken. Taste and add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar if the mixture is too tart. Cook, stirring, for an additional 10 minutes or until thickened to a jam-like consistency. (Reduce the heat to medium-low if the mixture is sputtering too much.)

To test for doneness, spoon a small amount of the mixture into a small bowl or plate and set in the freezer for 5 minutes. Tilt the bowl. If the jam is thick and stays mounded, it is done. If it is runny, continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so, until sufficiently thickened.

Remove the pot from the heat and let the jam cool slightly. Retrieve and discard the cheesecloth bundle. You can fish out the lemon peel as well if you like, but I usually just leave it in (it’s hard to locate). Ladle the jam into two clean 1/2-pint jars. Cap the jars and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Note: You can process the jam for a longer shelf life: Ladle the hot jam into 2 sterilized glass jars. Cap the jars with sterilized lids and rings and process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. Store the jars in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Recipe: Cheryl’s Apricot Frangipane Galette

Domenica Marchetti for NPR Domenica Marchetti for NPR

Cheryl Sternman Rule is the creator of the award-winning blog 5 Second Rule and author of the cookbook Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables (Running Press, 2012). The recipe for this rustic, almond-spiked tart is adapted from her book. The rich, delicate crust is spread with a thick, creamy layer of almond filling and then topped with apricot slices. It’s baked in a hot oven just until the natural sugars in the apricots caramelize and the slices of fruit turn juicy, with barely singed tips.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Crust

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 cup almond meal (also called almond flour)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

9 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

2 tablespoons ice water

Almond Frangipane

1/2 cup almond meal

1/4 cup sugar

4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1 large egg, separated

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Pinch of kosher salt

Fruit

4-5 apricots (about 10 ounces), pitted and quartered

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

For the crust, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, almond meal, salt, sugar and cold butter on low speed until clumps begin to form, about 1 minute. Add the almond extract and ice water and continue mixing until the dough comes together in a mass, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a large sheet of plastic wrap, flatten into a 4 1/2-inch disk, wrap tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Make the frangipane in the same bowl. Beat the almond meal, sugar, butter, egg yolk (reserve the egg white for brushing on the pastry later), almond extract and salt on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Refrigerate, covered, until the crust is ready.

Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet with parchment. In a large bowl, toss the apricots with the sugar and lemon juice. On a floured countertop, roll out the chilled dough to a rough 11-inch circle. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Spread the frangipane thickly over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Scatter the apricots, cut side up atop the frangipane, scraping any juices from the bowl on top. (Do not pile the apricots in a heap. If they don’t fit, eat any leftover pieces separately.) Fold in the pastry, pleating as you go, leaving a 4- to 5-inch circle of fruit exposed. Freeze on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Whisk the reserved egg white until frothy. Brush it on the exposed pastry border. Bake the galette in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the frangipane is set. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Allow the galette to cool to room temperature (at least 30 minutes). Because the pastry is extremely delicate, slice and serve directly from the baking sheet.

The nation’s supply of golden apricots comes from our own golden state, California. Apricots have always been my favorite fruit — and the stone fruit just keeps getting better. Over the last decade, growers have developed some super sweet apricot varieties, such as the Black Velvet and the Candy Cot. Apricots have a very short, sweet season so make the most of it.

Here’s how to choose the best apricots and ripen them properly: A good apricot is peachy-orange in color and on the soft side, but not so soft that it’s crossed over to squishy. There should be no green — not even a hint of it — on the skin.

To ripen them, gently place your apricots in a single layer in a shoe box — or on your counter — covered with a clean kitchen towel and out of direct sunlight. They ripen quickly, so you need to check them at least twice a day.

How do you know when your apricots are perfectly ripe? Take a sniff. They have an intoxicating floral, apricotty aroma.

I love fresh apricots just as they are, but they’re also delicious chopped into a fruit or spinach salad, made into apricot-pepper chutney or grilled and served with pork loin.

Read more of Michael Marks’ Produce Picks at www.mercurynews.com/produce-picks.

In the Bins

Tuscan melons
San Joaquin Valley
$2.50 to $3 each
Tips: This muskmelon has “grooves.” You’ll know the melon is ripe when the grooves turn golden and then orange.
Zucchini squash
Local farms, Fresno
69 to 99 cents per pound
Tips: The best zucchini are small. Check the blossom end, which should be firm. That’s where squash decays first.
Bicolor corn
Brentwood, Dixon
29 to 50 cents each
Tips: This is the perfect corn, with sweetness from the white kernels and great flavor from the yellow.

Apricot facts and picking tips

Apricot Facts, Picking Tips and Recipes

In the U.S., Apricots typically peak from June through July in the South, and July and August in the North. In order to produce good local apricots, producers depend on ideal spring and early summer weather conditions, and no late frosts. If you want to know which are the best varieties of apricots for home canning, see this page!

Before you leave to go to the farm:

  1. Always call before you go to the farm – Apricots are affected by weather (both rain and cooler temperature) more than most crops. And when they are in season, a large turnout can pick a field clean before noon, so CALL first!
  2. Leave early. On weekends, then fields may be picked clean by NOON!
  3. Most growers furnish picking containers designed for apricots, but they may charge you for them; be sure to call before you go to see if you need to bring containers.
    If you use your own containers, remember that heaping Apricots on top of each other will bruise the fruit on the bottom. Plastic dishpans, metal oven pans with 3 inch tall sides and large pots make good containers, so you can spread them out.
  4. Bring something to drink and a few snacks; you’d be surprised how you can work up a thirst and appetite! And don’t forget hats and sunscreen for the sun. Bugs usually aren’t a problem, but some deet might be good to bring along if it has been rainy.
  5. You might want to ask whether the apricots are! There are two major types of apricots: “Freestone” and. “Clingstone”. Freestone apricots and nectarines have flesh that slips easily away from the pit. Clingstones are a REAL pain, because the fruit tenaciously clings to the stone or pit! Most apricot varieties grown today are freestone and are usually available (depending upon your location) from June through September. Some nectarines are freestone and some are clingstone. Freestone nectarines are available in June and July. Most plum varieties are clingstone.

When you get home

  1. Spread the fruit out on towels or newspapers and separate any mushy or damaged fruit to use immediately.
  2. Put a couple of days supply into the fridge, wash and cut the others and freeze them up!
  3. Even under ideal conditions apricots will only keep for a week in a refrigerator, so for best flavor and texture, use them as soon as possible after purchase
  4. Now, get ready to make Apricot jam or canned apricots – It is VERY easy – especially with our free directions and recipes:

How to tell if the apricots are ripe!

  • Attached to the tree: Apricots are best picked when the fruit separates easily from the twigs. If it is hard to pull off the tree, it isn’t ripe! Apricots will not ripen further once removed from the tree (they only “soften”)
  • Color: Green is definitely unripe, but you can’t use red color as an indicator of how ripe a apricot is. Different apricot varieties have differing amounts of red blush in their natural coloring. Pick them when the ground color changes from green to yellow, orange, red (or a combination). The skin of yellow-fleshed varieties ripens to an orange tint, while the skin of white-fleshed varieties changes from greenish- to yellow-white.
  • Softness: unless you like your apricots very firm, pick your apricots with just a little “give” when gently pressed. Apricots at this stage are great for eating, freezing, and baking. Apricots won’t ripen very much after picking!
  • Odor: It should smell sweet and ripe!

Tips on How to Pick Apricots

A apricot is softer than most fruit, so it is important to pick a apricot gently, with little pressure. Using the sides of your fingers rather your fingertips helps to avoid bruising. Grab the apricot firmly and pull it straight off the branch. DON’T drop the apricot into the basket, but set it in gently!

Marks on the Apricots: Bugs (particularly squash bugs and stink bugs) bite fruit during development and this results in some imperfections in the apricot. This is especially the case with organically raised fruit. These look like dents in the apricots if the apricots were bitten by a bug when they were young. This causes a spot that does not grow properly and makes a wrinkle in the apricot. There’s nothing wrong with these apricots. They may look funny, but they will taste just as good as blemish-free apricots, and it’s better not to have the pesticides!

Apricot Canning, Freezing and Recipes

  • How to make Apricot jam
  • Canning apricots
  • How to freeze apricots
  • Here are some great and easy apricot desert recipes, like easy apricot cobbler.

How much do you need?

Raw measures:

  • About 6 medium apricots = 1 cup sliced apricots.
  • About 4 medium apricots = 1 cup pureed apricot.
  • 1 pound fresh apricots = 8 to 12 whole fruits

Process yields (Raw amounts to processed amounts)

  • 2 to 21/2 pounds of fresh apricots yields 1 quart canned
  • 2-1/2 pounds fresh apricots = 2 to 3 pints frozen
  • 1 lb of fresh apricots typically yields 3 cups of peeled, sliced apricots or 2 cups or puree.
  • It takes about 5 good sizes apricots or nectarines (or about 10 plums) to fill one quart jar of canned apricots.
  • An average of 17 -1/2 pounds of fresh apricots are needed per canner load of 7 quarts;
  • An average of 11 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints.
  • 1 bushel = 48 to 50 pounds, yields approximately 18 to 25 quart jars.

Apricots-Average retail price per pound and per cup equivalent

Canned Apricots

  • 16-ounce can apricots = 2 cups drained

Dried Apricots

  • 6 pounds fresh apricots = 1 pound dried apricots
  • 1 pound dried apricots = 2-3/4 cups
  • 1 pound dried apricots = 5 cups cooked
  • 6 ounces dried apricots = 1 cup
  • 6 ounces dried apricots = 2 cups cooked

Apricot pit tips

It’s best to remove apricot pits before you cook the apricots. Cherry, apricot, and apricot pits also contain amygdalin; the latter two, in potentially harmful amounts. Fortunately, apricot and apricot pits are sufficiently large and hard that few people intentionally swallow or chew them. (The unapproved anti-cancer drug Laetrile is a semisynthetic derivative of amygdalin; a cheaper version of laetrile produced in Mexico came from crushed apricot pits.) See this page for more information.

Nutritional Information

apricots
Delicious and Nutritious
a delicious
&
natural
treat
Serving Size: 1 medium apricot
Calories 40
Protein .06 g
Carbohydrates 10g
Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 m
Sodium 0 mg
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
Vitamin A 47RE
    • apricots are virtually fat free. A medium size apricot contains less than one gram of fat.
    • apricots are naturally sodium free.
    • apricots have no cholesterol.
    • apricots are a low calorie snack. A medium size apricot contains only 40 calories.
    • apricots contain vitamin A which helps us see in dim light.
    • apricots are considered a good source of fiber. The skin of a apricot provides both roughage and fiber.

Temporary Storage Tips

  • Ripe apricots have a creamy or golden undertone and “apricoty-sweet” fragrance.
  • Apricots should be refrigerated and used within a few days.
  • Putting apricots and nectarines in a loosely closed paper bag at room temperature for a day or two can help soften firm fruit – but they won’t become sweeter or ripen further – that stopped when they were removed from th etree.
  • For best flavor, allow the fruit to ripen fully on the tree.
  • Store at 33°F to 40°F and high humidity (a vegetable drawer in the fridge).

Preserving the fruit

  • For canning directions,
    See my page on how to make home canned apricots from fresh! It is really SO easy!
  • Freezing Apricots
    See my page on how to freeze apricots, plums, nectarines, figs and cherries. Even easier than canning and they will taste just like fresh.. but it does take up space in the freezer.

Question: Which is better, to can or freeze apricots?

Answer: In my experience, going back 50 years to my childhood, when my mother also canned and froze apricots, we both found that frozen were superior in color and flavor to canned apricots. It all depends upon whether you have room in your freezer.

  • Apricot butter
    If you like apple butter and you like apricots, you’ll LOVE this easy apricot butter recipe, complete with canning instructions, so you can make them now and give them away at Christmas time!
  • Apricot jam – it is out of this world and SO easy.
  • How to make apricot chutney
  • Spiced Apricots
    A traditional Southern favorite, canned spiced apricots!
  • Apricot Cobbler

    This recipe is easy and DELICIOUS!!!
  • Even more apricot and nectarine recipes: Apricot Honey, Marmalade, Conserves, Apricot Pickles and Oscar Relish

Substituting Frozen or Canned Apricots for Fresh

In most recipes, frozen or canned apricots can be substituted for fresh apricots. The frozen and canned apricots have already been sweetened; therefore, the amount of sugar called for in a recipe will have to be adjusted. Also, the apricots should usually be drained before using.

Grow your own apricots?

Most commercial apricots are griwn in California and other southern states. But if you live in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9.which is most of the US you can grow apricots. You can plant only one tree if you want, since mostapricots varieties are self-pollinating. The trees are covered in pretty white or pink flowers in in early spring and produce a substantial crop per tree.

How early can we pick apricots . . . .

Quoting:Two Types of Fruit
Most people think that all fruits continue to sweeten for a time after harvest. Not so. Fruits can be divided into two classes: climacteric and nonclimacteric. When picked at the green-ripe stage, the climacteric fruits—peaches, apples, avocados, bananas, mangoes, papayas, plums, persimmons, tomatoes, pears, kiwis, apricots and many of the “new” tropicals — contain large nutrient stores which change to sugars as the flesh ripens. (If harvested too soon, however, they’ll fail to improve at all, and will simply shrink, soften and eventually spoil.)
On the other hand, nonclimacteric fruits — cherries, citrus, figs, grapes, melons, pineapples, pomegranates, strawberries — do not have reserves of starches or oils, and thus will never get sweeter after they’re picked.
When selecting climacteric types, remember that red, yellow or orange fruits are not always ripe and that green fruits are not always immature. You can trust yellow bananas or pears and bright red tomatoes — but color is of little help with apples, and of no use in determining which peaches or nectarines are best.
In fact, many of the new peach and nectarine varieties have been selected to redden while they’re still unripe. Unless their flesh gives slightly to the touch, and background color is appropriate to the type (yellow or white, not pale green), peaches and nectarines will never ripen. If you pick out relatively mature peaches or nectarines, however, they will continue to sweeten at room temperature (70° to 80°F).
Apricots are more perishable. Select only those that are richly colored, and chill them immediately for use within one or two days. Most varieties continue to ripen to some degree, even in the cold.

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