We admit it: We here at FruitStand are big fans of the Stones. And we don’t just mean the band.
Stone fruits are some of Mother Nature’s most delicious creations, providing us with just the right kind of sweet, juicy bite to get through any season.
But what makes the apricot so special? Well, we’re glad you asked.
Thrice as Nice
To start, apricots just seem to have a certain allure – they’re popular and well-liked while remaining, somehow, a bit mysterious.
And that unknown factor dates all the way back to their origin.
In fact, it’s still up for debate exactly where apricots came from, though experts have a few prevailing theories.
Many point to Armenia for the apricot’s origin, noting that excavations in the area have dug up apricot remnants that date all the way back to the Bronze Age. Indeed, the fruit’s official scientific name, Prunus armeniaca, is a nod to the region and this popular theory.
Still, there are others who trace the plant’s roots to China, where apricots have been popping up in literature since 1000 BC, and a number of preservation and preparation methods for the produce – including salting and smoking – have been deeply ingrained in the culture.
And still others look to India for the beginnings of the apricot, where some argue what could have been ancient apricots have been eaten since 3000 BC.
But, digging a bit deeper into the history, many botanists marry all three theories, concluding that apricots were actually independently domesticated no less than three times.
Luckily for us, that well-rounded upbringing has seemed to lead to one of the planet’s tastiest fruits – which, these days, is cultivated world-wide, very much on purpose, and is bred to be enjoyed almost all-year long.
Kinds of Apricots
Indeed, proof positive of the plant’s popularity, the apricot for many years has been developed to blossom across several seasons.
Their harvest season starts in May and, in the best of conditions, can stretch all the way through fall – an impressive run for any piece of produce.
In fact, that’s the prevailing way the fruits are categorized, with a number of cultivars counting toward the time of year they prefer to come into their own, including:
Early Season Apricots
These are the first blush of apricot season: Cultivars that typically start sprouting in May, and ripen into their best selves around June.
Some of these most popular types of apricots include:
Gold Kist Apricots
Actually the first of all apricots to appear in a typical season, this example of the fruit is much larger than many other apricots.
However, don’t let the name fool you: Gold Kist apricots aren’t actually all that gold, turning up instead as a lovely bright orange color, with just a kiss of rosy red. And on the inside, the fruit is one of the juiciest and tastiest types of apricots. (One of the earliest, biggest and sweetest? Overachiever alert!)
Flavor Giant Apricot
Again, coming in as early as mid-May and lasting through the middle of June, these types of apricots can claim to be one of the first to hit the market.
And Flavor Giant apricots are indeed aptly named, with these examples of the fruits being one of the largest – and carrying a truly distinctive taste that tips more tart than sweet.
Not to be outdone, the Chinese Apricot appears as one of the most heavily-producing types of apricots. (That is, their trees are usually laden with examples of the fruit.)
Luckily for us, all that bounty happens to also be one of the sweetest varieties of apricot – although, with a solid deep orange skin, they might get confused for a clementine on first glance.
For anyone who considers themselves a summer baby, these apricots are for you! The sunworshipping bunch tends to start blossoming in June, but really makes their mark as things heat up in July and even early August.
Blenheim AKA Royal Apricots
Typically gracing us with their presence around late June, these types of apricots are definitely worth the wait.
Blenheims got the nickname Royal for a reason: They’re hands-down one of the best-tasting examples of an apricot, perfectly balancing the elements of sweetness, tartness and juiciness, along with being one of the most aromatic examples of the fruit.
Maybe that’s why they’re also the most popular type of apricot grown in California.
Truly the Goldilocks of apricots, these examples of the fruit can withstand both high summer heat and early fall frosts. Maybe that’s why they come out best right at the height of mid-season.
Tilton apricots are generally medium-sized versions of the fruit, boast a bright orange skin and are typically used for everything from eating fresh to freezing, drying and canning.
Don’t let their adorable name fool you: These types of apricots aren’t actually all that small – at least, as far as apricots are concerned.
The more medium-sized varietals are known for their juiciness and sweet flavor, usually coming into the world somewhere around late June.
Late Season Apricots
In the world of apricots, last is certainly not least. In fact, some of the tastiest cultivars don’t start blooming until August and even September.
Trust us, these varietals are worth the wait:
Puget Gold Apricots
As their name may suggest, these apricots were developed – and are still widely grown – in Western Washington State.
Perhaps thanks to all the good rain in the area, this varietal is known to grow especially large – and be particularly resistant to the chilling effects of seasonal frost. Which may also be why they bloom so well late in the season, typically not sprouting up until late August and blooming all the way through September.
Autumn Glo Apricot
By far one of the tastiest types of apricots, Autumn Glo apricots are truly proof that patience pays off – big.
They’re large, but don’t lose out on any flavor for their size, still packing in plenty of juice that’s delightfully sweet and just a touch tart. And while they can be eaten straight off the tree (during their harvest season of early August), these varietals also make great options for canning, thanks to their natural juiciness.
Brittany Gold Apricot
With one of the longest harvest seasons of all apricots, these varietals are always a pleasure to see hanging off their trees.
Brittany Gold apricots are appropriately named, for the lovely amber cast of their skin. Inside, their fruit is firm, juicy and a bit more tart than sweet. And the cultivars are also prized for canning and drying.
But as it goes to show, no matter what time of year it is, it’s always the perfect time for an apricot.