Apricots are sweet, delicious, and rich in beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber. Fresh apricots are found from May through mid-August. You can also purchase dried apricots year round, but limit yourself to 7 halves because they are high in concentrated sugar.
Buying and Storing Apricots Whether you buy fresh apricots at a supermarket
or farmers’ market, look for fruit that is plump, firm, and orange-gold in color. A ripe apricot should yield to gentle pressure and have a sweet fragrance. Look for velvety skins without bruises or shriveling. If your apricots aren’t quite ripe when you buy them, place them in a paper bag away from heat or direct sunlight for a day or two. Once they ripen, store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, where they will keep for up to two days. Avoid washing the fruit until you're ready to eat it. To keep cut apricots from browning, simply dip them in lemon juice diluted with a little water.
Healthy and Delicious Ways to Cook with Apricots Always rinse fresh apricots in cold water before eating. To remove the skins for a recipe, drop the fruits into simmering water for 15 to 20 seconds, then transfer to a colander and cool under running water. Use a sharp knife to gently pull away the skin. There are many healthy and delicious ways to incorporate apricots into your meals. Try these ideas:
1. Make a marinade for lean meats, chicken, or fish. Purée some skinned apricots and blend with Dijon mustard and fresh lime juice. This also works as a delicious dipping sauce.
2. Chop fresh apricots into a whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta main dish, or add them to a brown rice or whole wheat couscous side dish. Add fresh vegetables such as zucchini or red bell peppers, and herbs like basil or thyme, if you like.
3. Grill fresh apricot halves along with other fruits, such as nectarines or peaches. Top with nonfat plain Greek yogurt or part-skim ricotta, a little natural sugar substitute, and slivered almonds for a light and healthy dessert.
-Tips from Frances Boardman