A History of Apricots in the USAPosted on June 30, 2008
My wife recently finished writing a book with two other authors on California legal history. In it, she wrote of the early industry in the San Francisco Bay Area. It's hard to imagine amongst the buildings, parking lots, highways, and housing but only 75 years ago Silicon Valley was a thriving farming community that grew all sorts of summer stone fruits. One of the most produced stone fruits in the valley was the apricot. By 1935 there were over 2,000 apricot growers farming 18,000 acres. After World War II, the Santa Clara Valley became Silicon Valley and apricot production moved to the San Joaquin Valley. Today 300 apricot growers harvest about 17,000 acres of fruit. As of 2008, 95 percent of apricots grown in the United States come from California. Most of these are processed-dried or canned. While there has been concern over the waning interest in fresh apricots, the recent media attention given to new apricot hybrids as well as the Slow Food movement's promotion of an old variety (the Blenheim apricot), has helped to generate new excitement for eating these fruits fresh from the tree.
Apricots are said to be have been found in China 4,000 years ago. There are Asian varieties that are orange, white and even red. I wrote last week about the Angelcot, a white apricot that subscribers to the Harvest Flyer mix will see again this week. This variety is grown only by one farmer within 100 miles of the San Francisco Bay Area. He has a small number of acres on which he grows and harvests his crop but over the last three years his trees have produced more fruit so that people may have seen his Angelcots in some specific retail stores in coastal cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. The FruitGuys is proud to say that we knew him "when." The FruitGuys was one of his earliest buyers of these apricots for our office fruit delivery customers.
The White Apricot: The white apricot is a hybridized cross between a Moroccan and an Iranian apricot. It has a very pale-yellow skin color with a slightly-speckled and nearly peach-like blush at the top. The fruit inside is so juicy and refreshing that it tastes like some impossible combination of warm-apricot sorbet. When ready to eat, it has the juiciness and smooth texture of a perfectly-ripened peach but with a unique and indelible lightness.
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Enjoy and be fruitful!