Jam it up with apricots

by Sanjeev Kapoor

Apricots are said to be one of the most versatile fruits that exist. They are highly nutritious for your body, taste great and can be added to so many dishes easily. Today 9th January is celebrated as National Apricot Day! And why not, these tiny beauts do deserve an entire day dedicated to their wonderfulness. Now, why is it celebrated is because, in the United States, people think that a brand new year should be started on the note of good luck.  And, they say apricots bring some amount of good fate and luck to your life. So, why not know a bit more about them and make some amazing recipes with these!

Wonders of apricot

That’s what apricot can do to you. Whether it is Apricot Upside Down Cake or Apricot Jam, it is the fruit that leaves lasting memories. Most of the apricot produce is canned or made into jam or dried, but the taste of a perfectly ripened fresh specimen is something that will make you look forward to their brief season each year.

Apricots reach their peak in the month of July. They do not travel well as they bruise easily. But in their dried format they stay well.

The shape of apricot is somewhat similar to that of a peach but a little smaller. The skin is velvety and golden orange in colour. The fresh fruit tastes smooth and sweet and has a flavour that is a mix of a peach and a plum. When raw it is somewhat acidic, which decreases as it ripens and its sugar content increases.

If you are planning to buy some fresh apricots, look for those that feel heavy for their size. When they are fully ripe and golden in colour and give a little when pressed gently. But they should be consumed at the earliest. However, if you want to store them, they can be refrigerated for up to two days. If they are unripe leave them to ripen at room temperature. One thing you should remember is that dark green unripe apricots will not ripen well, but the light green ones will.

It's nutrient-dense

Ah yes, now let us explore the nutritional facts of this delightful fruit. The apricot seeds are high in Vitamin B17 (laetrile) that act as an excellent cancer preventive. It also has natural sugars that are easily digestible, Vitamin A and C, Riboflavin and Niacin, and also minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron and traces of sodium, sulphur, manganese, cobalt and bromine.

Interestingly, when the fruit ripens, its vitamin A content doubles. When the fruit is dried not only does it double in calories, but its calcium, phosphorus and iron contents also increase.

Health benefits are many

Studies show that the fruit, kernel, oil and flowers of the apricot have been used in medicine and medical treatment from ancient days. Its oil which is similar to almond oil, and is used as a sedative. It also provides anti-spasmodic relief to strained muscles. It also heals wounds, expels worms and is a general health tonic.

It's high iron content makes it very beneficial for people suffering from anaemia. And its cellulose and pectin content makes apricot a gentle laxative and therefore, useful to treat constipation. It also aids digestion. There are some more health benefits that this fruit provides. Its high Vitamin A content improves eyesight. And fresh apricot juice can be applied on scabies, eczema, sunburn or skin itchiness to give that much needed cool and soothing feeling. The beta-carotene and lycopene in this golden fruit help protect the LDL cholesterol or good cholesterol from oxidation, which in turn helps prevent heart disease.

Oh really!

You just have to know this. Recently some hybrids have been produced between apricots and plums which are supposed to be more superior. There is Plumcot, which is 50% plum and 50% apricot; Aprium, which is 75% apricot and 25% plum; and Pluot which is 75% plum and 25% apricot.

Caution

Fresh apricots contain a small number of oxalates which is not good for people suffering from calcium oxalate containing kidney stones. Then again dried apricots contain sulphur-containing compounds such as sulphur dioxide which can cause adverse reactions in asthmatic people.

I personally like to use golden apricots which are easily available these days. They can be pureed and mixed with vanilla ice cream and reset is a dessert fit for royalty. They can be sliced and used to garnish shrikhand, or mixed with some other exotic vegetables to make a salad that is full of taste and nutrients. There are so many other things you can do with this golden fruit. Just exercise your imagination and concoct many recipes that will leave an indelible taste on everyone’s palate. 

Recommended recipes-

Apricot Scones,  Rum Soaked Apricots,  Shrikhand With Stewed Apricots,  Apricots in Caramel Sauce,  Jardaloo Marghi

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.