When it comes to dried apricots, all varieties are not created equal. For quality you can taste, it’s best to stick with California dried apricots.
A concentrated source of fiber, California dried apricots enjoy the
distinction of being one of the most nutrient-dense dried fruits. Sweetly tart, they are lauded for their flavor as well as their excellent snacking and baking possibilities.
For drying, California apricots are picked at the peak of ripeness: sweet, juicy and full of flavor. In a labor-intensive but worthwhile process, the fruit is washed, sized and cut in half. The apricots are then placed cut side up and treated to preserve color and nutrients. The trays are continually rotated in the sun for about three days before the fruit is ready for washing and packing.
Check the Label and Check the Fruit:
Perhaps the most distinguishing quality of California apricots is that the fruit is dried in halves. The other main variety of dried apricots, Turkish apricots, are dried and sold whole with the pit squeezed out.
High in beta-carotene, dried California apricots are also darker orange in color and boast an intense, sweetly tart flavor. They are also a good choice for baking as they keep their shape well.
In its June 2000 issue, Gourmet Magazine corrected the assumption that all dried apricots are “created equal” by referring to California apricots as “the best dried apricots.” Gourmet commented that a “tangy, strong, unmistakably apricot flavor comes through loud and clear” on the bar cookie made with California dried apricots. The same recipe used with Turkish apricots was considered “disappointing—all we could taste was a kind of generic fruity sweetness.”
Although worth the effort, it is regrettably harder to find dried California apricots today. Due to importation of dried apricots and cheap labor costs abroad, California’s dried apricot industry has suffered. Unfortunately, canned apricots are also faced with a similar situation.
Support domestic industries by buying locally and regionally grown produce, whether they be fresh, canned, frozen or dried—it’s quality you can taste!