Say Yes to Apricot...
Did you know seeds of the apricot grown in central Asia and around the Mediterranean? are so sweet that they are often substituted for almonds. The apricot belongs to the Rosaceae family, which includes other tree fruits like apple, pear and peach. They are approximately forty different varieties of apricots, differing in size from three eighths of an inch to many varieties that surpass two inches, and in colors ranging from yellow to orange red.
Why should you eat Apricots?
Particularly in their dried form, apricots are one of the best natural sources of vitamin A and beta carotene. Just a handful of apricots easily meets one hundred percent of the recommended daily allowance of beta carotene and depending upon the variety, the carotenoid content can reach over 16,000 micro grams in just three fresh apricots.
- Beta- carotene, cryptoxanthin, and gamma- carotene are the predominant carotenoids.
- Apricots contain an abundance of phytochemicals such as D-glucaric acid, chlorogenic acid, geraniol, quercetin and lycopene.
- A very good source of vitamin C, and a good source of dietary fiber and potassium.
- Apricots contain phytochemicals called carotenoids, compounds that give red, orange and yellow colors to fruits and vegetables.
- Apricot seed, as pictured below, often referred to as kernels are effective in treating cancer.
- Many people believe that naturally occurring toxin cyanide found in apricot kernels are helpful.
- Apricot kernels are used to make the alternative cancer drug laetrile.
- Apricot oil was used in England to cure ulcers.
- Rich in Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that prevents free radical change damage to eye tissue, apricot may help to promote good vision.
- Intake of beta carotene present in apricot reduces the risk of heart attack.
Selection and Storage: Apricot season in the U.S. runs from May through August. In the winter, apricots are imported from South America.
- Look for fresh apricots that have a rich orange color and slightly soft.
- To avoid extra calories choose canned apricots that are packed in juice rather than in sugar syrup.
- Dried apricots come in orange and brown.
- Keep fresh apricots refrigerated as they have a short life.
- Consume within a few days when ripe.
- For use in cooking or preparing for canning, place whole apricots into boiling water for about thirty seconds, peel, pit, and halve or slice.
- Apricots can be made into wine and brandy.
- Add sliced apricots to hot or cold cereal or even to pancake batter.
- Dried apricots give a middle eastern flavor to chicken or vegetable stews.
Famous Apricot Jam Recipe
This jam is made without pectin. You will need a very large pot to prepare this in, as the jam boils up double in size during the early stages of cooking.
- 8 cups diced apricots
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 6 cups sugar
- Sterilize your canning jars by boiling for 10 minutes in a hot water canner.
- You will need 5 pint jars or 10 half-pints.
- Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot.
- Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.
- Once mixture reaches a rolling boil, continue to boil it for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent it from sticking.
- Remove from heat and fill jars, leaving 1/4 head space.
- Wipe rims clean and put the 2-piece metal canning lids in place.
- Process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
- Why not then use it to make apricots tarts, you and your family will love them for afternoon tea!
Apricots feel wonderfully sensuous in the hand. The outside of the skin has a soft downy or velvety feel, and warmed by the sun a good sized fruit. Apricots are those beautifully orange colored fruits.? Although dried and canned apricots are available year-round, fresh apricots with a plentiful supply of vitamin C and are in season in North America from May through August. Any fresh fruit you see during the winter months have been imported from either South America or New Zealand.
So enjoy apricots and gift yourself a healthy fruit!
(Sources: whfoods.com, inmamaskitchen.com)