Botanical Name: Prunus armeniaca
Family Name : Rosaceae
Apricots are those beautifully orange colored fruits full of beta carotene and fiber that are one of the first signs of summer. Although dried and canned apricots are available year-round, fresh apricots with a plentiful supply of vitamin C, are season from May through August.
Apricot tree is of moderate size, about 10m tall, with a reddish bark, leaves ovate to round-ovate or sometimes sub-cordate, 5-9 cm long; flowers pinkish white, borne singly and appearing much in advance of the foliage; fruits round, 5 cm across, pubescent when young, but nearly glabrous at maturity, with a yellowish orange, firm & sweet, mostly free from the flat, sidged stone; kernels sweat in some types & bitter in others.
Apricots are originally from China but arrived in Europe via Armenia, which is why the scientific name is Prunus armenaica. The apricot is said to be a native of China and has spread to India, Iran, Egypt & Greece. It is abundant in Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, Kullu and Shimla hills ascending up to 3000 m.
Properties of apricot
Cooling, laxative, refrigerant.
Food Value of Apricot
Apricot is a good source of sugars and vitamin A, and contains appreciable amounts of thiamine and iron. Fresh Indian apricots yield 86% of edible matter. Analysis of apricot shows the presence of nutrients in following proportions: (per 100 gms.)
Ripe apricot pulp contains: total solids, 1,2.4-16.7; insoluble solids, 2.1-3.1; acids (as malic acid), 0.7-2.2; total sugars (as invert sugar), 3.6-8.6; glucose, 3.2-4.8; fructose, 1.4-4.2; sucrose, 1.4-5.4.
Malic acid and citric acid are said to be the principal acids. Presence of tartaric acid and succinic acid is also reported. The free amino acids, identified in apricot are: asparatio, glutamic, threonine, serine, proline, alanina, glycine, valine, leucine, histidine, tyrosina, orginina etc.
Medicinal Uses & benefits
A number of food products are prepared from apricot as it is a good source of calcium, phosphorus and iron. It is highly perishable and is preserved for use in a number of ways e.g. apricots are canned & dried. They are also frozen, candied or made into paste. In India, small quantities of apricot are processed in U.P. Apricot pulp is cooked and thinly spread on cloth and then rolled and dried, and in this form is said to constitute an important food. In Himachal Pradesh, a number of products are produced from apricot like apricot jam, apricot nectar and apricot papad. In preparation of papad, the fruit is made into pulp which is then dehydrated and pressed. Apricot nectar, a popular beverage, is prepared by steaming and converting the ripe soft fruit into purce and mixing it with sugar syrup containing some citric acid. Apricot beverages have low acidity and therefore tend to be somewhat flat; they blend particularly well with more acid fruit juices, such as orange or pineapple. Apricot leather is extensively used in drinks and sauces after treatment with sulphur dioxide as preservative and mixing the same with sucrose (5%) and glucose syrup (5%). The golden colored product is highly nutritious and has a vitamin A potency of 7000 I.U./100g.
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