There is nothing like a perfectly, ripe, juicy piece of stone fruit. For years I only really ever had peaches or nectarines, but I have learned to expanse my horizons into other types, including apricots. A really good apricot is truly a treasure and I hope that I can help you find one for yourself. To find a good apricot one must understand when they are in season. First we need to know where they grow.
Where Do Apricots Grow?
Apricots can be a tricky fruit to grow as compared with other stone fruit. It is blooms before other stone fruit, which means it’s more vulnerable to frost damage. Places like Georgia and South Carolina that grow a lot of peaches, tend to shy away from apricots. They simply bloom too early and the risk of frost is too great. California is much better suited for growing apricots. Their chance for a frost when the apricots are in bloom is much, much lower. This is why California makes up more than 90% of the commercial apricot crop grown in the U.S. Most of the other apricots come from Washington with Utah making up less than 1%. My home state of Michigan also grows apricots, but it’s not a very significant crop nationally as risk of frost damage is high each year. You can find them at farmer’s markets and some stores that really focus on local produce.
When Does Apricot Season Begin (and End)?
Even thought apricots bloom early than peaches or nectarines, you still find them showing up at stores the same time as peaches and nectarines in late April to early May (I bought my first apricots on May 14th in 2015). The California crop wraps up in late July. The Washington apricot season runs from June to August. The month of August pretty much exclusively belongs to Washington. The Michigan apricot season is a little later and shorter than the Washington season, running from July to August with some late varieties ripening in September.
What to Look for When Buying Apricots
The idea that bigger is better does not reign true with apricots. I find that the larger ones tend to be less flavorful and more measly. Look for small sizes, which can be hard to find. The more red blush you see on the apricots tells you it was exposed to more sunlight, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to taste better.
Special Varieties to Look Out For
Frieda’s Speciality Produce releases their Angelcots apricots during the month of . I have been able to find them at Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s and Kroger in past seasons. They are a little colored apricot with honey sweet flavor. I made some awesome jam with this variety last year.
Well not a true apricot, a velvet apricot is technically an aprium (an apricot and plum mix), but you will find them labeled as velvet apricots, are amazingly sweet and flavorful pieces of fruit that you can buy mainly in June and July. I have gotten these at Whole Foods and Meijer stores in years past.