With their sweet-tart flavor and velvety skin, apricots herald the arrival of summer produce. But if you’ve never bitten into a fresh apricot before, you may wonder — what does apricot taste like exactly?
Apricots offer a sweet, peach-like flavor with slight tartness when ripe. The fuzzy skin surrounds a smooth, juicy flesh similar to a miniature peach. Dried apricots provide even more concentrated essence.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about apricots including their flavor profiles, texture, nutrition, uses in cooking, how to choose fresh apricots, and apricot varieties. Read on to become an expert on this sunny summer stone fruit!
Table of Contents
Overview of Apricots
Here’s a quick introduction to apricots:
- Apricots are small round stone fruits with velvety orange-gold skin and juicy flesh. They resemble tiny peaches and plums.
- Botanically they are classified as drupes, fruits with a hard stone pit surrounded by an edible juicy flesh.
- Apricots originated in Asia but are now grown throughout Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, America and Australia.
- The fruits bloom early in spring but have a short ripening season through early summer. They’re highly perishable.
- Popular varieties include Blenheim, Tilton, Moorpark, Orange Red, and Golden Sweet apricots. They range from tart to sweet.
So in essence, apricots offer a sweet-tart summer fruit that falls somewhere between nectarines, plums, and peaches in flavor. But what exactly does this delicate stone fruit taste like?
Describing the Flavor of Apricots
When ripe and juicy, apricots offer these defining flavor notes:
- Sweet-tart – Apricots contain sugar and organic acids that provide a pleasing balance of sweetness and tang.
- Peach-like – The predominant flavor mirrors a peach with tropical nuances. Less acidic than nectarines.
- Juicy – Each bite bursts with refreshing, sweet nectar. Well-ripened apricots are drippingly juicy.
- Musky – There is a subtle muskiness underneath, almost like a mango.
- Permeating – The unique apricot flavor infuses dishes and baked goods strongly.
So at their best, apricots provide a symphony of sweet peachiness, tropical fruit, and bright acidity that screams summer.
In addition to dynamic flavor, the ripe fruit offers a uniquely delicate texture:
- Tender skin – Thin, fuzzy velvet-like skin that’s easily peeled or bitten through.
- Juicy flesh – Soft, gel-like flesh that weeps juice when ripe.
- Stone fruit lineage – Resembles a small, oval peach or plum with single hard pit.
- Creamy – The soft flesh has a creamy, smooth mouthfeel when perfectly ripe.
- Easily damaged – The thin skin and tender flesh bruise and rot quickly if mishandled.
This ethereal texture that yields to a gentle touch contributes to apricots’ sensual appeal.
How Do Apricots Taste Different Than Peaches?
Apricots resemble miniature peaches but offer a few different tasting notes:
- Smaller and oval – Apricots are only 1-2 inches diameter compared to large round peaches.
- More delicate – Thinner fuzzy skin and flesh make apricots highly perishable and fleeting at peak ripeness.
- Higher acidity – Apricots contain more tart organic acids that provide tangy balance to the sweetness.
- Firmer flesh – Peaches become meltingly soft when ripe while apricots retain a bit more structure.
- More tropical nuances – In addition to stone fruit taste, apricots contain mango, pineapple and citrus hints.
So apricots essentially provide a petite, firm-fleshed peach with more sweet-tart vibrancy and tropical perfume.
Popular Apricot Varieties
There are over 30 popular apricot cultivars, but common types include:
- Blenheim – Sweet, juicy variety from California. Thin amber skin blushed red.
- Tilton – Firm, mildly tangy flesh. Bears heavy crops. Tends to bruise.
- Moorpark – Favorite for cooking. Sweet yet tart with reddish skin. Rich flavor.
- Orange Red – Very juicy with bright orange skin. Sweet nectar flavor.
- Golden Sweet – Large size, bright orange flesh, and intensely sweet rich taste.
Trying a spread of apricot types through the season allows you to find new favorites.
Nutrition Benefits of Apricots
Apricots offer a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants:
- Excellent source of antioxidant carotenoids for eye and skin health. Also contain phenols.
- Rich in vitamin A – a single apricot provides nearly 20% the RDV. Promotes good vision.
- High in vitamin C – important for immunity and wound healing.
- Provide iron, potassium, copper and magnesium.
- Contain pectin fiber for healthy digestion and cholesterol improvement.
So savoring apricots provides a burst of nutrition along with summertime flavor.
Eating Apricots Fresh Versus Dried
Fresh and dried apricots differ in taste:
- Fresh – Juicy, ripe apricots at their peak offer an incredible sweet-tart symphony of flavor and ethereal texture.
- Dried – Dehydration concentrates the sugars and flavor. Dried apricots have intensely sweet, almost tropical honey-like taste with chewy texture.
- Nutrition – Both offer benefits, but drying reduces vitamin C while making other nutrients like iron more concentrated.
Enjoy apricots fresh at the height of ripeness for maximum flavor impact, or turn to conveniently shelf-stable dried apricots year-round.
How to Choose Ripe, Ready-to-Eat Apricots
Look for apricots that:
- Have a deep orange-gold color showing few green undertones
- Feel slightly soft and tender when lightly squeezed but not mushy
- Are fragrant – fresh apricots release fruity aroma from the seams
- Have intact, flawless skin without bruises or wet spots
- Taste sweet and tangy with tropical essence and juicy bite
- Are moderate in size – very large apricots often lack flavor quality
Choosing perfectly tree-ripened apricots ensures you’ll experience them at their succulent sweet-tart peak.
How to Store Apricots
Keep fresh apricots:
- At room temperature if unripe – they won’t ripen further in the fridge
- Covered loosely to prevent moisture loss but allow oxygen flow
- In the crisper drawer of the fridge once ripe – cold prevents spoiling
- For 2-3 days at most – their delicate flesh deteriorates quickly
Proper apricot storage preserves freshness but their fleeting peak demands prompt enjoyment.
How to Use Apricots – Raw and Cooked
Apricots shine when used:
- Raw in fresh fruit salads with their edible skins still on
- Sliced onto tarts, scones, pancakes, yogurt, and oatmeal
- Made into jam with lemon juice and just enough added sugar to offset tartness
- Grilled or broiled to caramelize natural sugars
- Baked into crisps, galettes, crumbles, cakes, muffins, and strudels
- Used in chutneys, curries, tagines and stewed chicken or pork dishes
- Pureed into sauces for game meats, seafood, foie gras or cheeses like brie
The sweet-tart vibrance of apricots makes them endlessly versatile in both raw and cooked applications.
Key Takeaways – What Does Apricot Taste Like
- Apricots offer a dynamic sweet and tart flavor akin to peach with tropical nuances.
- They have delicate, velvety skin and juicy gel-like flesh speckled around a large pit.
- Varieties range from tart Tilton to intensely sweet and aromatic Golden Sweet apricots.
- Drying concentrates their sugars into sticky-sweet intensity.
- Apricots shine fresh in summer salads and cooked into jams, sauces, tarts, and curries.
- Choose ripe, fragrant apricots free of blemishes and store properly to savor their fleeting peak of flavor.
With their tempting golden hue and honeyed tropical zing, apricots provide a sensual summer fruit experience singularly their own. Sink your teeth into one at the height of ripeness to appreciate apricots in all their glory.