Thanks for coming.
I’m an apricot, and I’d like to say that
'Australian Apricots Are Absolutely Amazing”!’
I just love that letter A. Can you think of any other A words to describe an apricot? I bet you can. Anyway, let me introduce you to my sweet world.
We apricots – like peaches, nectarines, plums and cherries – belong to a group called stone fruits, not because we’re cold and hard-hearted (we’re sweet) but because we have a tough, inedible seed in our centre. Our light orange coloured flesh is soft and juicy, and we’re so good to eat.
We grow on splendid trees that can reach 7 metres in height. They look like opened umbrellas when fully mature, with a canopy of dark green leaves which glisten in the sun. As our parent trees age, their bark grows dark and often becomes twisted and gnarled, but this doesn’t stop them from producing tender, young fruit like me.
We grow to about the size of a ping pong ball. Do you play ping pong? It’s a fun game.) We come in different shapes, from plump or round to oval; some of us have a distinct groove running from top to bottom which gives us a cute look, while others have flattish sides or a pointed end.
We have soft and downy skin, which ranges in colour from pale apricot to deep reddish-orange (we don’t really like using the word orange, we prefer to think of that fruit having an apricot hue) – and the shy ones among us often blush with pink or red, but don’t mind that they’re delicious too. We smell divine and taste sweet and juicy – that’s why we’re absolutely amazing!
We’re available from November to March but are at our best in December, so you’ll invite us to your house then, won’t you?
We apricots have a secret. I’ll tell you if you won’t tell anyone else. Promise? OK, then. Do you know why we have such a hard shell to protect our seed? It’s because it’s poisonous, and we don’t want to make you sick. We don’t like to talk about it; it’s embarrassing. Now let’s change the subject.
Sydney Markets wholesalers sell us to greengrocers by many different variety names like Earlicot, Popicot, Honey Rich, Golden May, Honeycot, Rival, Late Brittany and Autumn Glo.
Although there are many varieties of us in Australia, greengrocers usually just sell us as apricots and not by our varietal name, but we don’t mind – we’re apricots and proud!
Our parent trees prefer to grow in well-drained soils where there is a good water supply. Now, they are a little fussy about climate. They need to feel the chill of winter to help their flowers to make fruit, but heavy spring frosts can damage their blossom, so we can’t grow properly. The balance has to be just right.
Planting usually takes place early in wintertime, and the trees take about 5-6 years to grow and give good quality fruit. During the growing years, the trees are continuously pruned to encourage the growth of strong branches.
We’re harvested in Australia in November and around Christmas time but can be found in greengrocers as late as March. The harvest season for each area is generally short, usually lasting only 15-20 days.
Select those of us that are firm, plump, pale to golden-orange in colour with a sweet fragrance – absolutely fabulous! Our flavour and sweetness develop as the fruit softens.
Ripen us on the kitchen bench in a single layer in a shallow fruit bowl. Make sure we’re out of the sun. When ripe, eat us within 2 days or store us in the fridge in the veggie crisper or in a recyclable bag. We’re best eaten within 2-3 days.
We began life in China over 4000 years ago, and like many Chinese, we have travelled and settled all over the world. Traders between China and the Middle East carried us along the Great Silk Road, then Arabs introduced us to the Mediterranean region and from there, we spread into Northern Africa. We’ve had more adventures along the way than Indiana Jones!
The Romans took us from North Africa to Italy, and we went to all parts of their empire. By the mid-16th century, we had gained great respectability and could be found in the gardens of nobility throughout Europe and England. But our travels didn’t stop there; as people migrated from Europe, we were taken to other regions of the world and by the 18th century, we were growing in orchards in the USA, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
Try these wonderful Sydney Markets recipes to cook with apricots: