California Apricots


California Apricots


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. Eat three fresh apricots per day for almost 30% of the daily recommended amount.

HISTORY: Apricots were discovered approx. 4000 years ago (it is believed) on the mountain slopes of China. Mission era Spaniards introduced the tree planting to California in the 1700s when they began claiming California as their land holdings. In 1792 the first major California crop was produced. Apricots flourished in the Santa Clara Valley and you'll find them in many backyards there today.

COMPETITION: If you go into a store right now, chances are pretty good that you'll find your dried bag of apricots comes from another country such as Turkey, South Africa, Argentina or Chile. These countries have sources of water for growing and favorable conditions that help them produce cheaper crops you'll find sold in U.S. markets. It's a tough nut to beat for California growers.

If you love apricots, you'll also want to check out California apples and California almonds.

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