There is nothing like a perfectly, ripe, juicy piece of stone fruit.
For years I only really ever had peaches or nectarines. I never had anything else growing up. Never a plum, apricot, or cherry.
As an adult I have certainly expanded my horizons. I have come to know that a really good apricot is truly a treasure. I hope that I can help you find one for yourself.
Finding a good apricot must start with knowing when they are in season and that all starts with learning 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 (For example I bought my first apricots on May 14th in 2015). The California crop wraps up in late July. This is the time of year where most grocery stores will swipe the citrus for the stone fruit.
The best California apricots are had right at the start of the season. The larger ones you find later in the season tend to be mealy and very unappetizing.
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
Here are some specificity varieties of apricots you need to be looking out for in your local store.
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.
If you are into eating the best each season has to offer before you leave the site today, check out my e-book series [Eat Like No One Else] This… to find all the best information on what’s best each season, in an easy to read and very affordable package.