I like orange skinned apricots – the ones that are fresh ripe and sweet – but last summer I spotted two varieties that really intrigued me. One is called Angelcot White Apricot and the other Black Velvet Apricot, both captured my curiosity and I had to buy them no matter what the cost, believe me they weren’t cheap.
I remember, I couldn’t get home fast enough to try them and when I did, I was amazed. They made quite a tasty impression and both are sweeter and juicier than the traditional orange skinned apricot. Now I am a bigger fan of apricots.
While reading up on these two varieties, I discovered that California produces almost 95% of the apricots grown in the United States, and apricot growers are continually experimenting to produce new varieties. I wonder if any of these clever growers have more mouth-watering apricots coming down the pipeline?
The season for harvesting apricots here in North America usually begins mid-May and lasts until August and novel fruits like Angelcot and Black Velvet – both are part of the Proprietary Class of tree ripened fresh fruits – the season is even shorter so if you see them and haven’t tried them, please do. If you have tried them, I would love to know how you liked it.
Orange Apricots – these pretty orange apricots range in color from yellow to deep orange, and sometime the skin has red or rosy touches.
My husband and I bought a Blenheim Semi-Dwaft Apricot tree. We anticipate this tree will bare lots of sweet firm golden fruit sometime next year.
Black Velvet Apricots – are the result of a new cross blend of 50% apricots and 50% plums and is exclusively produced from Kingsbury Orchards in California.
Though it is classified as an apricot it has mostly the characteristics of a plum with a faint apricot taste. Its skin has a slightly fuzzy coat, which is probably why the word “velvet” is in its name. It has a tangy sweet flavor.
Angelcot White Apricot – New on the apricot scene, this white apricot was developed by a farmer located in California by the name of Ross Sanborn.
Don’t let its color fool you, its pale flesh may seems like its unripe, but that is simply its distinct coloring. You will know better once you bite into it and taste its succulent juiciness.
The list goes on, there are many more types of apricot, each with their own specific characteristics. Steve Alber at Harvest To Table has a great list of the varieties of apricots with description and harvest times.
Nutritional Profile and Benefits
According to the Apricot Producers of California, just three fresh apricots provide 35% to 45% of the recommended daily intake for Vitamin A. They are a great source of antioxidants and vitamin C. Apricots contain:
Beta-carotene | Calcium | Dietary Fiber | Iron | Lycopene | Phosphorus | Potassium | Tryptopene | Vitamin C
They are low in sodium, calories and fat, so eat as many of these healthy fruits as you desire.
Selecting and Storing Apricots
Apricots will continue to ripen after they have been picked from the tree. Any that are too firm or have touches of green may not be completely tree-ripened. It’s the tree-ripened ones that taste best and have the highest level of antioxidants.
Choose apricots with the best coloring for its particular variety. They should be plump with fairly firm skin, yield to gentle pressure when lightly squeezed, and have a delicate aroma.
Ripe fruit can be kept longer if refrigerated. If you have apricots that need to ripen a bit more, keep them at room temperature or place them in a paper bag with a banana or an apple. [The ethylene gas released helps ripen the fruit.]
Freezing apricots – cut in half and remove the pit. Dip in a solution of 1 part fresh lemon juice and 3 parts filter water to help discourage discoloration. Place apricot halves in an airtight freezer friendly container or bag. Freeze up to 3 months
Preparing Fresh or Frozen Apricots
Fresh apricots – wash them well before use; pit and peel, if necessary.
Frozen apricots – bring to room temperature and prepared as desired.
Apricots are one of many delicious fruits to eat out of hand, whole and fresh. If you can find Black Velvet and Angelcot apricots, try them. They would make a unique and delightful stand in for the traditional orange apricot in recipes. Serve these fresh juicy sweet fruits in one of the following way:
Cut up fresh apricots and top on or add to your next breakfast meal
Dress up a salad with this luscious fruit
Make a smoothie
Make fresh homemade apricot juice
Treat yourself to an apricot dessert, like a sorbet or a tart