Apricots are a fruit that belong to the family Cucurbitaceae, which includes cucumbers, melons, watermelons and bananas. They have been cultivated since ancient times and their use dates back to at least 4000 BC in Egypt. Apricots were used medicinally for centuries after they became popular during the Renaissance period in Europe. Today they remain one of the most widely grown fruits worldwide, though many varieties exist today.
The word “apricot” comes from the Latin word “apricosus”, meaning “of or pertaining to apples”. The name was first applied to the wild species known as Prunus armandii (the apple plum) in 1538 by Italian botanist Giovanni Battista Vespucci.
In 1793, William Hogarth published his famous painting, “The Golden Apple”, depicting a young girl holding an apple in her hand. The painting became so well-known that it inspired a number of children’s books and nursery rhymes.
The name “apples” came into common usage in English around the time of the American Revolution when British soldiers referred to Americans as “apple trees.”
Today, there are over 200 different types of apricots, each with its own characteristics. The main types of apricot include: the cotogna, the China, the Japanese, the prunikas and the royal.
The cotogna is probably the most popular apricot grown in the world and is originally from Italy. The flesh has a deep orange color with an excellent flavor.
Underripe cotogna can be stored until it ripens without losing its flavor. The tree is quite hardy and resistant to disease. The cotogna is known for having a slight laxative effect.
The cheng is one of the oldest known apricot varieties, grown in China since the time of Confucius (551-479 BC). It has a medium-sized pit and a yellowish orange flesh with a delicate flavor.
Like most other apricots, its skin can be either light or dark in color. The cheng tree is one of the hardiest apricot trees in existence and is resistant to disease.
The natsugatsune is an apricot variety that originated in Japan and is highly resistant to common pests that attack apricots. It has an intense, sweet flavor that is popular with chefs but is often used as a baking fruit because of its firmness.
The prunikas are a group of apricot varieties native to Romania. They are very popular in Eastern Europe and the fruit has a rich, sweet flavor.
Another group of apricot varieties is the “royal” type, which includes the Alfred, Baily, Cowin, Early Red, Favorite, Howard, Mayette and Ulster. Most of these varieties are small and can be eaten fresh or used for cooking.
The skin of the apricot is not particularly nutritious and should be discarded. It does, however, contain a good amount of fiber and vitamin C.
The flesh, on the other hand, is a good source of many essential nutrients including carotene (which the body converts into vitamin A), riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, zinc and copper.
The apricot is a low-calorie, low-sugar and a low-fat food. The fruit also contains the digestive enzyme, amylase, which can help to break down starches.
As with most fruits, apricots are very high in water content, which accounts for their low calorie content but high in fiber and nutrients.
The apricot is also high in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that the body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A is necessary for good vision in low light and darkness, andApricots are also a good source of potassium, which helps to maintain normal heart function and control blood pressure.
Apricots are very versatile fruit and can be eaten raw, dried, stewed, glazed, juiced or even made into wine. They are also an essential ingredient in many cakes, pastries and other desserts.
The apricot is thought to have been introduced into Greece from Afghanistan around 700 BC. The Romans began to grow apricots across the empire and the fruit became so popular that the Emperor Augustus had them planted around Rome for his troops to eat.
By the time that the Arabs invaded Spain in 711, apricots were growing all across the country. However, they weren’t introduced to Britain until the middle ages when King Louis XI of France sent several gifts of the fruit to Elizabeth I.
In 1770 a Hungarian by the name of Nicholasftery became the first person to artificially breed an apricot variety. His experiments produced the Blenheim apricot, now a common variety of the fruit grown in many parts of the world.
Today, apricots can be found across the world and the fruit is particularly common in Middle Eastern countries like Afghanistan and Iran.
In the last couple of decades, apricots have become increasingly important in the United States, with California producing around 95% of the US crop.
The apricot is a member of the Prunus genus, which also includes the plum, cherry, almond and peach. The apricot is related to the plum and the two fruits are sometimes known as cousins.
The apricot is a fruit tree that usually grows to a height of between 9 and 15 feet and can sometimes reach as high as 20 feet with a spread of around 10 feet. It has a lifespan of between 15 and 20 years.
The apricot is a fragile fruit and has to be handled and transported with care. It should also not be eaten until it is at least ripened as the unripened fruit can cause nausea and stomach pains.
The skin of the apricot does not provide much nutrition, so it should just be peeled and discarded before eating.
Because the apricot is a fragile fruit, it should be washed or wiped before eating to ensure that it is clean.
Sources & references used in this article:
Carotenoid Accumulation in Japanese Apricot (Prunus mume Siebold & Zucc.): Molecular Analysis of Carotenogenic Gene Expression and Ethylene Regulation by M Kita, M Kato, Y Ban, C Honda… – Journal of Agricultural …, 2007 – ACS Publications
Differential expression levels of aroma-related genes during ripening of apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.) by M González-Agüero, S Troncoso… – Plant physiology and …, 2009 – Elsevier
Analysis of morphological, pomological and yield characteristics of some apricot germplasm in Turkey by BM Asma, K Ozturk – Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, 2005 – Springer
Apricots for New York state by R Lamb, W Stiles – 1983 – ecommons.cornell.edu
Preliminary identification of the viruses producing Spanish apricot pseudopox (viruela) and apricot mosaic diseases by A Peña-Iglesias, P Ayuso Gonzalez – … Symposium on Fruit Tree Virus …, 1973 – actahort.org
Transcriptional regulatory networks controlling taste and aroma quality of apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.) fruit during ripening by Q Zhang, C Feng, W Li, Z Qu… – BMC …, 2019 – bmcgenomics.biomedcentral.com
Characterization and the Effect of Maturity at Harvest on the Phenolic and Carotenoid Content of Northeast USA Apricot (Prunus armeniaca) Varieties by OE Campbell, IA Merwin… – Journal of agricultural …, 2013 – ACS Publications
Effects of hand and chemical thinning on fruit size and quality of ‘Priana’ and ‘Beliana’ apricot (Prunus armeniaca) cultivars by WL Howard – 1922 – University of California, College of …