National Apricot Day- January 9, 2012

National Apricot Day.  It even sounds pretty doesn’t it??  I never liked apricots until recently.  I will admit I prefer them dried and dipped in a nice dark chocolate(if you have never tried it, do…it’s amazing) but I like them nonetheless. 

Apricots have a long history.  This fruit of ancient lineage has been grown in China for over 4,000 years.  It now thrives in most temperate climates, with California producing about 90 percent of the American crop.  A relative of the peach, the apricot is smaller and has a smooth, oval pit that falls out easily when the fruit is halved.  Throughout the world there are many varities of apricot, including Riland, Tilton, Blenheim, Royal, and Chinese.  In color, the skin can range anywhere from pale yellow to deep burnt orange; the flesh from a goldne cream color to brilliant orange.  Because they’re highly perishable and seasonal, 90 percent of the fresh apricots are marketed in June and July (which makes it strange to me that National Apricot Day should be in January???).  When buying apricots, select plump, reasonably firm fruit with a uniform color.  Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 5 days.  Depending on the size, there are 8 to 12 apricots per pound.  Dried apricots are pitted, unpeeled apricot halves that have had a large percentage of the moisture removed.  They’re usually treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve their color.  In addition to being rich in vitamin A, dried apricots are a valuable source of iron and calcium.  The kernels of the apricot pits are used in confections and to flavor liqueurs.  Like bitter almonds, apricot kernels are poisonous until roasted. 

Try this yummy apricot recipe for something different!

Apricot Pistachio Bites

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

12 fresh apricots halved

½ cup pistachios, finely chopped

1-2 TBSP of honey(if desired)

Stir cream cheese until smooth; pipe or spoon into apricot halves. Sprinkle with pistachios. Drizzle with honey if desired. Serve as an appetizer, snack or dessert. Makes 12 servings.

 

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