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All about apricots

THE ASIAN AGE. | FAREEDA KANGA
Published : Jan 12, 2020, 4:21 am IST
Updated : Jan 12, 2020, 4:21 am IST

In India, the fruits ripen around monsoon when the climate is pleasant and they are plucked and dried in the sun or mechanically at times.

Apricots can be used in diverse cuisines especially Hyderabadi and Parsee ones adding an instant sweetness to any recipe.
 Apricots can be used in diverse cuisines especially Hyderabadi and Parsee ones adding an instant sweetness to any recipe.

A favourite fruit of the Maharajas and Nizam, apricots lend a sophisticated flavour to many dishes and are great for health too, says FAREEDA KANGA.


Not your everyday fruit, the apricot or khubani as it is known in Hindi has been a favourite fruit in Indian cooking for centuries. Equally versatile in sweets and savouries, it is rumoured that the Nizam of Hyderabad, reputedly the richest man in the world in his time, had a special dessert made of apricots and cream called Khubani Ka Meetha created in his honour. It remains a Hyderabadi speciality to date…

Cousins of the peach, nectarine, plum and cherry, apricots are fragrant, with a mild, glossy skin in hues of yellow to deep orange. Hidden inside is a large kernel that will fall out easily if the flesh is ripe.

As apricots grow in a tiny area in India on large, leafy orchards only, they are expensive and have grown to symbolise wealth and extravagance so they wind their way into celebratory recipes and party cooking more often than not.  

In India, the fruits ripen around monsoon when the climate is pleasant and they are plucked and dried in the sun or mechanically at times.

Apricots can be used in diverse cuisines especially Hyderabadi and Parsee ones adding an instant sweetness to any recipe. They can be used in Mediterranean dishes, stews or to make Indian chutneys as well. Make sure the apricots are not overcooked so that one does not experience the texture of this fruit.

STORAGE AND SELECTION
Apricots are at their optimal when kept at room temperature until ripe and then moved in the fridge in a plastic bag or bin for three to five days. Remember to always keep them out of direct sunlight if kept outside.

How do you spot a ripe apricot?
One sign: the fruit is soft but not overtly malleable; otherwise it may be overripe. Depending on the recipe you will need a ripe or firm fruit and of course if you plan to eat it raw.

DRIED VERSUS RAW

Which is better, or are they equal?
The debate is on…

Remember as rule of thumb all fruit that is dried from its fresh state loses most of its water content through the drying process, so it takes 3 to 4 pounds of fresh fruit to produce 1 pound of the dried version.

Dried fruit is really like a healthy fast food or convenience snack since it is easy to carry and keeps well. So the convenience factor is heightened and offers a quick energy boost. Research suggests that dried fruit provides rich sources of dietary fiber and iron — particularly figs, raisins, dried plums, and apricots.

How to incorporate dried apricots in your diet

Replace a few servings of fresh fruit a week with smaller portions of dried fruit, you can automatically increase your intake of dietary fiber, potassium, iron, and antioxidants.

Be warned that since it is higher in sugar, dried fruit can be bad for your teeth if you consume large quantities of it. Reduce your risk of cavities by consuming dried fruit at mealtimes, rather than as a snack, and either rinsing with water or brushing your teeth immediately after eating

HEALTH BENEFITS OF APRICOTS

Brimming with goodness and antioxidant qualities apricots are full of Vitamin A (For great eyesight) Potassium (for fluid and electrolyte balance)  and fibre ( both soluble and insoluble).
“Apricots have decent amounts of most of the minerals required for healthy bone growth and formation. Calcium, phosphorous, manganese, iron, and copper all aid in bone metabolism, and are present in this fruity. Regular consumption of apricots therefore, along with leafy greens, nuts and seeds, help to prevent weakening of the bones and developing bone conditions such as osteoporosis.”
Says Shwetha Doshi, Pune based nutritionist and diet consultant. Apricots are friends of the heart too.
The beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium and even the fibre all contribute to normal heart functioning. Vitamin
C, protects the heart from free radical damage, whilst potassium lowers blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels and arteries.

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COOKING TIPS:

For Fresh Apricots:
 
“Apricots have a seed in the middle. Make a sharp cut round the fruit and twist it to make in two halves, then the seed can be easily removed with a paring knife Apricots may be substituted for their cousins (peaches and nectarines) in most recipes, so feel free to experiment.
In case you want to remove the skin, just blanch for 20 seconds and dip in ice water, the skin would be easily peeled off.
They turn black if exposed to air so use it immediately or keep in acidic solution of juice” suggests Chef Praveen Shetty, Executive Chef, Conrad Bengaluru.

For Dried Apricots:

Apricots can be soaked for  a while before cooking. They can be cut easily by knife, but tend to stick so a dust of flour will help

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