California's 300+ farms and growers in San Joaquin Valley (Central Valley) produce around 95% of the apricots grown in the U.S. You'll find apricots growing on farms throughout California, however, and may be able to find a source within an hour or two drive of where you reside. Shown is a farm representative of the typical type of grower--usually it is a small, privately owned family farm.
Another place you'll find apricots is at California farmers markets, though they are hard to come by at some of the markets. When not in season, sold as fresh fruit, you'll find dried apricots may serve your needs. Dried apricots are fantastic as a snack, or lend to gourmet dishes, as well. With its sweet, tart flavor, the apricot lends itself to a variety of menu uses--sometimes just as an enhancer to boost the flavors of meats, salads and deserts.
Apricots are good for you. If you need a snack, add them to your diet--here's why. They are loaded with Vitamin C, potassium, iron, Vitamin A, copper, beta-carotene, lycopene, and the apricot seed has an extremely high content of B17 or laetrile which has been found effective in preventing cancer. Apricots may aid in fighting anemia (high iron content), constipation (high fiber content), digestion (alkaline), eyes and vision (Vitamin A, especially found in dried apricots), fever (combined with honey and mineral water it can help cool fevers), and skin problems (fresh apricot leaves can be applied to scabs, sunburn, itchiness and eczema). The California apricot's unique mix of anti-oxidants makes it a good choice for fighting heart disease, cancer and stroke. The beta-carotene found in apricots makes them a premium source of this nutrient with just three fresh apricots providing almost 30% of the daily recommended amount.
They are also very high in fiber and have the additional nutritional benefits of being low in saturated fat and sodium and do not contain any cholesterol.
Apricot, one of nature's nutritional powerhouses, not only has a
rich history, but is also the leader of apricot production in the United States.
Over 300 growers in California, covering 17,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley,
produce over 95% of the apricots grown in the United States. Most apricot farms
in California are small, family-owned businesses that pride themselves on
growing one of California's most prized specialty crops. This small, delicate
fruit not only packs a powerful punch of nutrients, but is also extremely
versatile due to its and the variety
of ways it is produced, packaged and sold. Apricots can be purchased fresh,
canned, frozen, pureed, dried and as nectar both in juice and concentrated form.
Their compatibility with other foods makes apricots a favorite with home and
professional chefs alike! Gourmet Magazine has referred to the California
Apricot as "the best dried apricots" available!
Nutritionally, California apricots are a powerful source of disease fighting anti-oxidants and are one of the healthiest and most beneficial fruits available. They are rich in beta-carotene, Vitamin C, potassium, iron, Vitamin A, copper, lycopene, and the apricot seed has an extremely high content of B17 or laetrile which has been found effective in preventing cancer. They are also very high in fiber and have the additional nutritional benefits of being low in saturated fat and sodium and do not contain any cholesterol.
Because of these rich nutrients, the
The history of the California apricot started 4000 years ago when it was discovered on the mountain slopes of China. From there this ancient fruit found its way across the Persian Empire to the Mediterranean. Spanish explorers introduced the apricot to California in the 18th century, and recorded history indicates in 1792 the first major California crop was produced. By 1920, the California apricot was flourishing in the Santa Clara Valley. Eventually California apricot farms found their way to the San Joaquin Valley after World War II and the ensuing growth of the computer industry in the Santa Clara Valley.
Today, California apricot farmers face a variety of challenges - competition from lower priced apricots from other countries including Turkey, South Africa, Argentina and Chile; bankruptcy and the decline in purchasing power by Tri-Valley Growers (formerly the industry's largest processor) and their successor; unpredictable weather conditions in California; changes in consumer habits; and a notable lack of publicity and education compared to many other fruits. However, the Apricot Producers of California (or APC), is working hard to change that. They have produced a consumer handout which features practical information about California apricots. It contains nutritional information, serving suggestions, tips on using and selecting California apricots, and how incorporating apricots into a lifelong lifestyle is a great way towards healthier eating habits. This organization is also actively involved in lobbying governmental and trade organizations; sponsorship of a variety of educational and informational efforts to the foodservice industry, dieticians, and consumers; participation and attendance of trade shows; launch of a website; and continued media enhancement.