Everything to Know About Apricots

This petite stone fruit packs a sweet-tangy flavor punch.

May 25, 2023
fresh fruits at a street market in a small French town, Provence

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fresh fruits at a street market in a small French town, Provence

Photo by: Adam Smigielski/Getty Images

Adam Smigielski/Getty Images

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By Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen

Layla Khoury-Hanold is a contributor at Food Network.

Dried apricots are available year-round but fresh apricots are a seasonal delicacy only available for a short time in the summer. Here’s everything you need to know about this small, sweet-tangy stone fruit, including the different varieties of apricots, how to tell when they’re ripe and what to make with them.

Apricot tree with fruits growing in the garden

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Apricot tree with fruits growing in the garden

Photo by: egal/Getty Images

egal/Getty Images

What Are Apricots?

Fresh apricots are small, round stone fruits that are a member of the Rosaceae family, along with peaches, apples and pears. Fresh apricots have a fuzzy skin that ranges in color from yellow-orange to pale orange to bright orange, depending on the variety and how ripe they are. Some apricots may also have a pink blush on the skin. When ripe, apricots are sweet and juicy like a peach, with a floral and slightly sour flavor profile (unripe apricots will taste sourer).

According to California Apricots, around 400 growers in California produce over 95 percent of the apricots grown in the U.S. Apricots can be purchased fresh, dried, canned, frozen, pureed and as nectar in juice.

From a nutrition standpoint, Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, award-winning nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal best-selling author of Diabetes Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook, says, “One cup of fresh apricots has about 75 calories, 3 grams of fiber and plenty of vitamin A and beta-carotene, an antioxidant that's good for healthy eyes and skin.” Amidor notes that apricot kernels contain cyanide and are therefore toxic if consumed raw; roasted kernels are safe to eat and have a mild, nutty flavor, like that of almonds.

Close-up view of vegetables and fruits sold in the open market.

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Close-up view of vegetables and fruits sold in the open market.

Photo by: Ali CAN/Getty Images

Ali CAN/Getty Images

5 Varieties of Apricots

There are dozens of varieties of apricots. According to California Apricots, the most prevalent varieties of apricots in the U.S. include Blenheim, Patterson, Tilton and Castlebrite. One newer, popular variety is Katy apricots.

  • Blenheim: considered the most delicious California apricot. It has a very intense color and flavor and is particularly juicy, which limits its shelf life when it comes to shipping capabilities.

  • Patterson: known more for their yield, durability and ease of transport rather than their flavor.

  • Tilton: one of the most dominant and most flavorful California apricots, they are juicy and tender with a sweet-tart flavor. Tiltons are slightly flatter with a suture line that goes halfway around the apricot.

  • Castlebrite: bright orange in color, firm and full of flavor when ripe.

  • Katy: yellow-orange skin with a blush to it and full of flavor when ripe.

When Are Apricots In Season?

Apricots are in season from early May to July.

How to Know When Apricots Are Ripe

You’ll know apricots are ripe when they are soft to the touch and juicy. Choose apricots that are plump, fairly firm (just slightly soft) with an orange-yellow to bright orange color. Avoid apricots that are greenish-yellow as these are unripe and will not ripen any further.

Making apricot jam. Canning process, fresh fruits on white wood rustic table, top view. Zero wastefood concept

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Making apricot jam. Canning process, fresh fruits on white wood rustic table, top view. Zero wastefood concept

Photo by: istetiana/Getty Images

istetiana/Getty Images

How to Store Apricots

If the apricots are not ripe when you bring them home, let them sit on the counter for a day or two. When ripe, store in the refrigerator and enjoy within a few days.

You can also store apricots in the freezer. To freeze apricots, quickly blanch them in boiling water (peeling off the skin if desired), slice them in half, remove the pit and freeze in a tightly sealed container or bag for up to 3 months.

A Japanese woman using a knife in the kitchen to cut apricots in half and arrange them on an enamel bat.

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A Japanese woman using a knife in the kitchen to cut apricots in half and arrange them on an enamel bat.

Photo by: Yuki Kondo/Getty Images

Yuki Kondo/Getty Images

How to Cut an Apricot

  1. Cut In half: Find the natural indentation that runs across one side and slice into it with a sharp paring knife. When your knife reaches the pit, keep your knife in place and slowly rotate the fruit to slice through remainder of the apricot.
  2. Remove the Pit: Gently twist the fruit open and pull the pit out of the flesh. If the apricot is firm and the pit isn’t budging, try placing the apricot half with the pit on a cutting board and cut it in half lengthwise. This should help loosen the pit enough to remove it.
  3. Slice: You can leave your apricots cut in halves, or slice or dice as needed for various recipes.
Cooking Apricot Jam

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Cooking Apricot Jam

Photo by: HMVart/Getty Images

HMVart/Getty Images

What to Cook with Apricots

Apricots are excellent enjoyed raw, either for snacking, on cheese boards or in salads, like this Spiked Summer Fruit Salad. You can cook apricots in a variety of ways, such as grilling, as with these Grilled Peach Crisp Foil Packs, or poaching, like these Poached Apricot Sundaes. Apricots make an excellent addition to baked goods such as muffins, breads, cakes, pies and cobblers, and desserts such as pudding and ice cream. Try blending apricots into a Fruit Smoothie for a sweet-tangy punch of flavor. On the savory side, sauteed apricots pair particularly well with pork and poultry dishes.

You can also make Apricot Jam to top breakfast dishes such as toast, yogurt parfaits, pancakes or waffles. Try whisking apricot jam into salad dressings, marinades or glazes for chicken or pork, as with this Apricot-Glazed Chicken with Spring Vegetables.

Try swapping in apricots for other stone fruits, like this summer ready Peach Caprese Salad or The Best Peach Cobbler. Dehydrate apricots using a food dehydrator and add to dishes such as Quinoa Salad with Apricots, Basil and Pistachios or Chicken Tagine With Olives and Apricots.

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