For many, apricots are sweet reminders of summer – of sunny days spent climbing up apricot trees, biting into the succulent fruits or enjoying jars of grandma’s apricot jam. Certainly, the apricot is one treat you can indulge in; because it is not only delicious but good for you as well.
Here are some surprising facts about the apricot that will give you more reasons to look forward to the next summer season.
- Apricot trees are native to China. Their cultivation spread to Persia and the Mediterranean, and they were subsequently brought to the North American continent by the Spanish explorers. To this day, China remains as the world’s top producer of apricots, along with Turkey.
- The apricot’s name has its roots in the Latin word, “praecoquum,” which means “early ripening fruit.”
- An apricot tree can be fruit-bearing for up to 25 years.
- Similar to the cherry, peach and plum, the apricot is a stone fruit, characterized by the presence of a tough seed in its center.
- The Chinese believed that apricots had fertility-enhancing properties and called the fruits “moons of the faithful.”
- The Hunzas, a small group of people living in the Himalayas and who are said to have an average lifespan of 120 years, have a fondness for eating apricot pits. Fresh and dried apricots also form part of their diet.
- Eating three fresh apricots can supply you with 45% of your daily requirement for Vitamin A. The same amount of nutrients can also be provided by half a cup of preserved apricots. One thing to remember in selecting fresh apricots is that the deeper the color of the apricot, the more nutrients it contains.
- Ripe apricots are very sweet because they contain three different types of sugar: fructose, sucrose and glucose.
- The oil extracted from the apricot seed is marketed as bitter almond oil.
- A dried apricot is a very good source of energy, being 40% sugar. Dried apricots were among the foods eaten by astronauts during the Apollo missions in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
- Due to the very short apricot season, more than half of the harvested fruits are canned, dried or made into preserves and jams.
- Apricots have a close resemblance to peaches but one telling difference between them is that apricots do not have fuzz on their skin.
- Cross-breeding plums and apricots have resulted in the development of new fruits such as plumcots, consisting of equal parts of plums and apricots; apriums, which are mostly apricots; and pluots, which are mostly plums.