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Apricot

Definition
Apricot is a moderate, light, or strong orange to strong orange yellow colored edible fruit of the Prunus armeniaca - a deciduous Asian tree, which have alternate leaves and clusters of usually white flowers. The fleshy fruit encloses a hard nut surrounding a droplet-shaped, reddish-brown seed or pit. Its' size ranges from small (about 25–30 g per fruit) to large (100–130 g).

Their flavor is almost musky, with a faint tartness that is more pronounced when the fruit is dried. Some people think of the flavor as being somewhere between a peach and a plum, fruits to which they're closely related.

The fruit can be consumed fresh, dried, frozen, or processed as canned product, as juice, or as baby food (pureed). It is similar to the peach in shape but with little to no hairiness when ripe. Apricots are cultivated generally throughout the temperate regions of the world and used fresh, cooked in pastries, or preserved by canning or drying.

 

A Brief Historical Background
Cultivation of apricot in China dates back 3,000 years and spread to Armenia, and then to Europe. Since apricots arrived in Europe via Armenia, that is why the scientific name of Apricot  is "Prunus Armenaica". The Romans introduced apricots to Europe around 70-60 B.C. through Greece and Italy.

Today Turkey, Italy, Russia, Spain, Greece, U.S.A. and France are the leading producers of apricots. In India, apricots are found in abundance in Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, Kullu and Shimla.

 

Health Benefits
A healthy, whole foods diet should include apricots as a delicious way to add to your nutrients intake; for it consists of the following:-

  • Phytochemicals called Carotenoids; Antioxidant Lycopene - Apricots are high on beta-carotene and lycopene activity which makes them good for the heart. Both beta-carotene and lycopene protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, thus help in the prevention of heart disease.
  • Vitamin A - Apricots contain Vitamin-A that enhances or promotes good vision. Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, quenches free radical damage to cells and tissues. Free radical damage can injure the eyes' lenses.
  • Dietary Fiber - Apricots are a good source of fiber, which prevents constipation and promotes healthy digestive conditions such as diverticulosis.
  • Potassium
  • Iron - Dried apricots are an excellent source of iron. Thus enhances the production of hemoglobin in the body
 

Apricot Juice
Fresh juice of Apricot  leaves is useful in skin diseases. It can be applied with beneficial results in scabies, eczema, sun-burn and itching of the skin due to cold exposure.

Apricot Oil
Apricot kernel oil is cold pressed and refined from the dried kernels of the apricot fruit. Rich in essential fatty acids like oleic and linoleic acid, apricot kernel oil is high in vitamin A. Since it easily penetrates the skin, it is good oil for prematurely aged, dry or irritated skin. The excellent softening and moisturizing properties is great for face, hands and hair. It is light in colour with pleasant nutty odor and used in production of creams, balms, lotions and cosmetics.
 
World over people use massage therapy to help promote healthy skin, nourish and strengthen the body, relieve stress, reduce pain, and encourage balance and well being. Apricot kernel oil massage opens and increases the flow of energy, balancing the entire nervous system and helping to release physical and emotional disharmony.

Sought out for its high vitamin E content and skin softening properties, apricot kernel oil is known for its ability to penetrate the skin without leaving an oily feel. Apricot kernel oil is also popular as massage oil and it used as carrier oil when used with essential oils for aromatherapy.
 
How to Select and Store
Apricot season runs from May through August. In the winter, apricots are imported. One must look for fruits with a rich orange color while avoiding 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.  Ripe fruit should be refrigerated. However to ripen firm fruit, hold at room temperature or place in a paper bag with an apple or a banana.

Uses Of Apricot
  • Apricot are a good source of fiber, which has a wealth of benefits including preventing constipation and digestive conditions such as diverticulosis
  • Apricot Kernels oil is used for food purposes and in cosmetic and pharmaceutical preparations
  • Apricot also use in medicine for different ailments
  • Apricot is advised to persons suffering from fever as it has cooling effect
  • Apricot is also useful as laxative
  • Apricot juice is very refreshing.

Apricot Recipes
Fresh Apricot Pies
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 10 cups sliced fresh apricots (4 LB)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca     
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Double crust pastry for 9-inch pie(s)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Cream or beaten egg

Method

   1.  Sprinkle lemon juice over apricots
   2. Blend in sugar, tapioca, and cinnamon; mix lightly
   3. Let stand 15 minutes
To Bake Fresh Apricot Pie
   4. Pour half of apricot filling into unbaked 9-inch pie shell; dot with 1 tbsp butter
   5. Add top pastry; flute edge of crust
   6. Brush top pastry with beaten egg
   7. Bake at 425°F 40 minutes or until fruit in center of pie is cooked
To Freeze Extra Pie Filling
   8. Place half of filling in large freezer bag; dot with 1 tbsp butter
   9. Squeeze out air and seal
  10. Place in 9-inch pie pan; shape to fit pan and freeze
  11. Once frozen, remove pan
To Bake Frozen Pie Filling
  12. Unwrap and place frozen filling in unbaked 9-inch pie shell
  13. Add top pastry; flute edge of crust
  14. Bake at 425°F 60 to 70 minutes.

Apricot Pasta Salad
Ingredients

  • 4 oz fusilli (corkscrew) pasta
  • 6 fresh apricots (3/4 LB), cut into quarters
  • 1 whole chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 2 small zucchini (1/2 LB), julienned     
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp dried
  • Apricot Basil Dressing (follows)

Method

   1.  Cook pasta as package directs; drain and let cool
   2. Combine pasta, apricots, chicken, zucchini, red pepper, and basil in bowl
   3. Toss with dressing
      Makes 4 servings

Apricot Basil Dressing
   1. Combine 2 fresh, ripe apricots (pitted), 2 tbsp white wine vinegar and 1 tbsp sugar in blender; whirl until blended
   2. With blender running, slowly add 1/4 cup vegetable oil until thick and smooth
   3. Stir in 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried basil.

 
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