How to Select and Store Apricots

Apricots (Prunus armeniaca) are a fine summer treat. They are stone fruit (drupes) that are smaller than peaches but softer than plums and they have a distinctly delicious flavour when ripe. Originally from China where they still grow wild to this day, apricots are a member of the rose family and are related to peaches.[1]


  1. Image titled Select and Store Apricots Step 1
    Purchase fresh apricots when the season is peak. The season for locally fresh apricots is short (approximately mid-May to July/August Northern Hemisphere; November - January in Southern Hemisphere). Chile, South Africa and New Zealand send fresh apricots to the Northern Hemisphere countries during winter but these are obviously more expensive and are often not as tasty; see "Tips" on tree-ripened apricots.
  2. Image titled Select and Store Apricots Step 2
    Select for colour and firmness. Choose apricots that are firm to touch, plump in appearance and possess a deep orange or yellow/orange colour. [2] A red tinge is also often present. Look for fruit that is unblemished, as apricots bruise easily. Although squishier, bruised apricots are ideal for use in sauces, moisture and flavor addition in baked goods etc. So, if you can get them at a bargain price, don't overlook them.
  3. Image titled Select and Store Apricots Step 3
    Ripen immature apricots in a paper bag. If you cannot buy apricots that are ripe enough, use a paper bag to help ripen them. Fold the bag over and keep this bag at room temperature until the apricots have softened a little. Keep out of direct light and the apricots should ripen within 2 - 3 days.[3] Unripened apricots can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days.[4]
  4. Image titled Select and Store Apricots Step 4
    Store apricots in a refrigerator. You can place apricots into a sealed container and refrigerate them for up to one week. Be sure that they are ripened first, as they will not ripen in the refrigerated environment.
  5. Image titled Select and Store Apricots Step 5
    Use overripe apricots immediately. Apricots that are no longer firm but have softened and taken on a lovely deep orange hue should be eaten immediately, or used in cooking before they become mouldy or mushy. They are still delicious at this stage but require immediate attention.
  6. Image titled Select and Store Apricots Step 6
    Twist an apricot in half to eat. A ripe apricot will open very easily with a small twist, to break it in half. This will reveal the stone on one side and the two halves can then be eaten easily. Or, just nibble around the stone and eat away the flesh if preferred.


  • Apricots make great sauce, chutney, sweet and sour sauce, jam and stewed fruit desserts.
  • Apricots are often treated with sulfur dioxide before they are dried to preserve their color and certain nutrients. This particular treatment may affect an asthma attack or allergic reaction in susceptible people. Unless dried apricots are labeled as sulfate-free, anyone with asthma should avoid them.
  • Apricots are an excellent source of beta-carotene and one apricot provides the daily requirements of vitamin A.
  • Small apricots are often the tastiest. They tend to be apricots that have not been forced to grow larger with over watering.
  • There are around 10 varieties of apricots, with Patterson and Flaming Gold commonly found in North American markets.[5]
  • Apricots are suitable for freezing but be aware that they lose their structure and become soft during freezing. Nevertheless, this still makes them great for using as sauce, purée, sorbet etc.[6]
  • Pureed apricots make a great substitute for butter in cooking.[7]
  • Tree-ripened apricots taste the best but are probably the hardest to come by unless you grow your own or reside near an apricot orchard. At least once in a lifetime, make an effort to get a tree-ripened apricot, however, as they do taste magical - apricots picked prior to tree maturity don't tend to develop the full apricot flavour.[8]


  • Avoid green-tinged apricots because they are unlikely to continue to ripen.
  • Always rinse well prior to eating; stone fruits such as apricots are heavily sprayed at many orchards. Choose organic apricots, where possible, in preference to conventionally grown apricots. Try Farmer's Markets for local choices.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper bag for ripening
  • Gentle vegetable and fruit wash (optional)

Sources and Citations

  1. Local Harvest, Apricots
  2. Just Say yes to Fruits and Vegetables, Fruit Zone - English Recipes - Apricots
  3., Apricots
Show more... (5)

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Food Selection and Storage