For me, New Mexico summer means walking through the front gate to the welcoming scent of our apricot tree, which is both a shady respite from the heat and an abundant food source. Once the fruits ripen, there are more than one family can consume! To enjoy this amber fruit all year long, I have perfected sweet and savory dishes as well as chutney and jam. When paired with other local ingredients, apricots add rich, fragrant undertones to your meal and provide significant health benefits.
Their high beta-carotene and fiber content help balance overall cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the intestines. They also contain the anti-oxidant vitamin A, which promotes healthy eyesight and reduces free radical damage to our cells. Thus, apricots not only thrive from summer sun but also protect us from over-exposure to it.
Commercially grown dried apricots may be treated with sulfur dioxide gas or treated with sulfites to extend their shelf life. Over time, sulfites can cause rashes and other degenerative skin conditions. Cookbook author Mark Bittman explains, “both a person’s health — as well as the environment’s — will improve with a simple shift in eating habits away from animal products and highly processed foods to plant products and what might be called ‘real food’. The more we pay attention to our food sources, the more we will support both our health and that of the planet.
Try recipes to enjoy apricots, both as fresh summer fruits and as a golden jar of winter delight.