SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Among fruit's great pleasures are in-season apricots. The fresh California apricot season is short but very sweet, from May through July.
When you buy fresh apricots, choose plump, well-formed fruit. Size varies with the variety; you may get from seven to 12 per pound. Apricots' color ranges from deep yellow to blushing golden-orange, and their aroma deepens with ripeness.
To ripen firm fruit, place in a paper bag with an apple or banana. When ripe, the fruit is sweet and soft, good to eat out of hand or to use in prepared dishes.
Apricots belong to the rose family, and are classed as drupes or stone fruit. They are known to have grown wild in China as far back as 4,000 years ago, and have since spread around the world. The famous "golden apples" of Greek mythology were apricots; apricots had reached Italy by 100 B.C., but did not reach England until the 16th century.
They were reported to be growing in in Virginia in 1629, but the fruit has never adapted well to the climate of the eastern United States. It seems the Spanish took apricots to the New World with their earliest settlements, and seedlings were being planted at Spanish missions in the 18th century.
Commercial growing of apricots in California is said to date from 1792, at an orchard in Santa Clara, near San Jose.
(Source: California Fresh Apricot Council. )
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