Apricots are a round, fragrant temparate fruit of the rose family, with thin, velvetly skin ranging from pale yellow to deep orange, with soft luscious yellow-orange flesh encasing a large, rough, woody free stone. They are eaten fresh, poached, roasted, in tarts, stuffed and as jam. In Middle Eastern cookery they are much used in sweetmeats and savoury dishes, especially with lamb. The kernels are used for their faintly bitter almond flavour but, containing prussic acid, should be roasted first.
In the apricot-growing belt from Turkey to Turkistan, white, black, gray, and pink apricots are grown. Apricot cultivars include Goldcat, Harglow, Moongold, Moonpark and Sungold. Among the many interspecific apricot hybrids are the peachcot, plumcot and cherrycot.
Spring and summer are the apricots harvesting season.
Look for plump fruit with as much golden orange colour as possible. Blemishes, unless they break the skin, will not affect the flavour. Soft-ripe fruit has the best flavour, but must be used immediately.
Do not buy fruit that is pale yellow, greenish yellow, very firm, shriveled, or bruised.
Refrigerate ripe fruit, unwashed, in a paper or plastic bag for up to 2 days. Allow apricots to soften at room temperature a few days before eating. To ripen apricots, place them in a closed paper bag at room temperature until they give to gentle pressure and are fragrant.
Wash apricots just before serving.
To cut apricots, slice around the seam, twist in half, and lift out the pit.
Add sliced apricots to fruit or green salads.
Poach apricots with sugar and water and purée for dessert sauce, or use as a glaze for meats
Bake duck, lamb, or chicken stuffed with a mixture of apricots, onions and other vegetables.
Top cheesecake with apricot halves poached in equal quantities of sugar and water till plump and soft.