Did you know that in Latin, the word apricot means "precious?" I don’t know about that, but I do know that apricots are delicious and super healthy. They are loaded with beta-carotene, vitamin A, fiber, iron and vitamin C. But to get the most nutrition from them, they need to be ripe. Here’s how to know when they’re at their peak:

How to choose ripe apricots

  • Color and texture: A ripe apricot will be fuzzy and soft on the outside. It will have a deep orange or yellow hue, but you might also notice a red or rosy tinge to the skin. Put it back if it is light yellow or has a slight tinge of green anywhere on the fruit—these are signs of being underripe. Apricots bruise easily, so stay away from fruit with blemishes or dark spots, which usually indicates they are damaged or overripe.
  • Firmness: Pick apricots that are plump and firm to the touch. You will know it’s ripe if it is firm but yields slightly when you press on it. Put the apricot back if it feels super hard. This means it's probably tart and underripe. On the other hand, a soft or shriveled apricot is more than likely damaged or past its expiration date.
  • Size: Small apricots tend to be the sweetest and ripest. This is because they have not been overwatered and forced to grow larger while on the tree.
  • Smell: Take a whiff! A ripe apricot should smell just like you want it to taste—sweet and bright. It should give off a fragrant apricot aroma.
  • Twist method: If your grocery store allows it, sample one of the apricots. You will know the apricot is ripe if it breaks open easily when you twist it. Never do this without asking first!

How to ripen

If you accidentally bring home a bunch of underripe apricots, place them in a paper bag and store at room temperature for five days. The bag will trap the ethylene gas that the apricots produce, helping them to ripen quickly. Want them to ripen even faster? Add an apple, banana or avocado to the bag, which will increase the amount of ethylene gas even more and speed up the ripening process.

How to store

Store ripe apricots in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. They should last for up to a week in a sealed container.

How to prepare

Apricots are tasty in desserts like muffins, breads, ice cream and pudding. Or try a traditional apricot upside down cake!

Don't limit apricots just to desserts! They add a sweet flare to savory dishes—especially pork and poultry. Try apricot salmon, a peppery apricot pork roast, or an apricot chicken bake.