Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!
Nutritional and Other Information
About Apricots from
the Barren County Farmers' Market




Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Apricots are believed to have originated in north central and northwestern China where they have been cultivated for over 4000 years. Over the years, apricots spread throughout Europe, the Middle East and eventually to California, where nearly 97% of America's crop is grown.

This transplanting of the apricot has resulted in distinctly different types throughout the world. The apricot varieties found in the United States are primarily from Europe since Spanish Missionaries brought apricots to California. Spanish explorers are credited with introducing the apricot to the New World, with the earliest plantings reported in Virginia. But the temperate eastern climate was not suitable for apricot production, which did not flourish until seeds were planted in the gardens of Spanish missions in California. The first major crop of apricots was recorded in 1792 in an area south of San Francisco.

Apricots originally hailed from China. Cuttings made their way across the Persian Empire to the Mediterranean where they flourished. The leading apricot producing countries today are Turkey, Italy, Spain, and Greece, with the United States ranking sixth in world production.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Apricots mature primarily in early summer making them one of the earliest available summer fruits. The fruit is harvested just as the skin changes from green to yellow before the fruit is too soft and subject to bruising and rapid decay. The U.S. fresh market production season is relatively short, lasting from mid-May through mid-August, but processed apricots are usually available throughout the year.

Selecting a quality product

There are at least ten varieties of apricots. Some of the most common ones found in markets are the early Castlebrite, Patterson and Flaming Gold. Choose apricots that are slightly soft but still firm and fuzzy in texture, with a yellow-orange color. Ripe apricots bruise easily, so look for unblemished fruit, especially for desserts and fresh-fruit compotes. Avoid buying apricots that have no aroma or that are rock-hard.

Tips on Storage

Ripe apricots keep up to a week if refrigerated. Store slightly unripe apricots in a paper bag at room temperature, away from direct light, for two to three days to soften. Once ripe, apricots can be halved, pitted and frozen. They become soft when thawed but can be used in sauces, purees, ice creams and sorbet.

Donít wash fruit until ready to eat them. Enjoy apricots fresh at room temperature, or use in any recipe that calls for nectarines, or fresh, frozen or canned peaches.

Tips on Preparation

Wash apricots in cold running water before using them. To halve apricots, cut down to the pit around the seam and twist the two halves to separate them or separate the fruit with you fingers. Once the fruit halves have been separated, the seed should be easily removed. Discard the pit.

Dip peeled or cut-up apricots into diluted lemon juice to keep from browning. Because of the delicate nature of apricots and their small size, it's not advisable (or necessary) to peel them.

To freeze: Select firm, ripe, yellow apricots. Sort, wash, halve and pit. Peel and slice if desired. If apricots are not peeled, heat them in boiling water 30 seconds to keep skins from toughening during freezing. Cool in cold water and drain.

Since apricots do not ship well, they are usually picked too soon, before they develope their full flavor. Using them dried may be a better choice in areas out of their growing range. It is best to soak dried fruit in boiling water before serving.




Recipes

Nutty Apricot Bars

(48 servings)

12 oz apricots - dried
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour- all purpose
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz coconut - flaked
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts - chopped

Cover apricots with water, and bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until tender. Drain reserving 1/4 cup liquid. Coarsely chop apricots, and set aside. Combine reserved apricot liquid and 3/4 cup sugar in a saucepan; simmer 5 minutes. Stir in chopped apricots. Cream butter; gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating at medium speed of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. combine flour, baking soda, and salt; add floured mixture to creamed mixture, mixing well (mixture will be crumbly). Stir in coconut and pecans. Pat about three-fourths of coconut mixture into and ungreased 13x9x2 inch pan. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes. Spread apricot mixture evenly over crust, spreading to within 1/4 inch from edge of pan. Sprinkle with remaining coconut mixture. Bake an additional 30 minutes. Let cool in pan; chill. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator. Yield: about 4 dozen




Pork Pinwheels with Apricot Stuffing
(6 servings)

1 lb pork tenderloin

SAUCE:

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
Nutmeg
1 cup apricot nectar

APRICOT STUFFING:

1 tsp bouillon, chicken, instant
2/3 cup water, hot
1/3 cup apricots, dried, snipped
2 tbsp celery, chopped
1 tbsp margarine
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Pepper
2 cups whole wheat bread cubes

Split tenderloin lenghwise, cutting to, but not through, opposite side; open out flat. Pound tenderloin lightly with meat mallet to a 10x6 rectangle.

APRICOT STUFFING

Dissolve bouillon in hot water, pour over apricots. Let stand 5 minutes. Cook celery and onion in margarine until tender but not brown. Remove from heat; stir in cinnamon and pepper. In a large bowl mix bread cubes, onion mixture, and apricot mixture; toss lightly to moisten.

Spread stuffing evenly over tenderloin. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting from short side. Secure meat roll with wooden toothpicks or tie with string at 1-inch intervals. Cut meat roll into six 1-inch slices. Place meat slices on rack of unheated broiler pan, cut side down. Broil 4 inches from heat 12 minutes. Turn; broil 11 to 13 minutes more or till done. Remove toothpicks or string; transfer meat to a serving platter.

SAUCE:

Combine cornstarch and nutmeg. Stir in apricot nectar. Cook and stir till mixture is bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Serve sauce with meat slices.




Apricot Chicken

Makes 6 servings

2 pounds chicken tenderloins, cut in half
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry
3 tablespoons catsup
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons peanut oil
6 fresh apricots (3/4 pound), halved
3 green onions, cut into 2-inch slivers

Combine vinegar, water, sugar, soy sauce, sherry, catsup, and cornstarch for sauce; set aside. In a wok or large frying pan, heat oil and stir-fry chicken over high heat 10 minutes or until tender and golden brown. Add apricots, stir-fry 1 minute. Pour sauce mixture over chicken. Cook, stirring until thickened. Garnish with green onion slivers.




Apricot Crumbles

Fruit crisps or crumbles are some of the simplest desserts to prepare.

Makes 2 servings
1/2 cup apricot preserves
4 fresh apricots, pitted and sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup crunch almond granola
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
Pinch cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Adjust the baking rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter two 1-cup custard cups or ramekins, sprinkle the bottom of each with a little brown sugar.

First, stir together the apricot preserves and sliced apricots, divide the mixture evenly between the two cups.

Second, combine the flour, granola, brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender until the mixture is coarsely crumbled and then divide evenly between the cups.

Third, bake the crumbles until the filling is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then cover tightly with plastic wrap. These can be held at room temperature for a day or refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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