The Latin root word of apricot means “precious.” The fruit was found to be precious as it ripens much before the other summer fruits. Apricots are cousins of peaches, but much more smaller and smoother. Many sweet varieties of apricots are made available today. But sweeter varieties are to follow as growers go on experimenting with new varieties. Look for plump apricots that are as golden orange in colour as possible. Do not compromise on the pale and greenish yellow ones. Sweet apricots are those softer ones and should be eaten with out much delay. Apricots are good nutrient sources.
The nutrients such as beta-carotene and niacin are more concentrated in dried apricots than in fresh ones. But dried apricots, bought from stores are likely to be high in sugar content. That is why dentists remind us to brush our teeth well after having the sticky dried fruits. Sometimes, as they get dried, apricots are treated with sulfites. If you happen to be allergic to sulfites, you need to be cautious while purchasing dried apricots. On the label pasted over the pack, it will be mentioned whether the packed apricots have been treated with sulphur dioxide for preserving colour. Moreover, apricots treated with sulfites will be brown and not orange in colour.
If you want to ripen a bunch of apricots in room temperature, place them all in a paper bag together with an apple. They are ready to be taken out of the bag if they yield to slight pressure exerted on the surface. These ripened apricots should then be refrigerated in another paper bag for a couple of days. After that, they can be washed well and eaten as an ideal fast food snack.
If you feel they are ‘great’ when eaten raw; you will have to admit they are simply ‘terrific’ when rightly cooked. They can be grilled until semi-soft with a little honey brushed over. They can also be steamed and poached. Poached apricots form delicious sauce and taste marvellous with spices such as cinnamon or clove.