November 06, 2010

Apricot Fruits


Apricot (Mishmish in Arabic)

In Arab world Apricot is not an important subject for food blog, because it is the most familiar fruit among Arab people. But people from the other part of world, some of them never see or even heard about it. So I am posting this here.

It has some traditional value among the Arab people. In one kind or another it is a part of their daily meals. There are different products of Apricot fruits available in the market. Such as Fresh fruits, Dried fruits, Semi dried fruits, Apricot jam, Apricot preserves, Dried apricot paste ( Kamar Al Din) etc…. All these products have different nutritional value and different tastes.

Kamar Al Din (Dried apricot paste)

Kamar Al din is an Arabic word , which is well known among Kuwaitee people. During the Holly month of Ramadaan Kamar Al din is used as a delicious drink by dissolved in water for Iftaar (Breakfast). 
Apricot dried paste


Semi Dried Fruit





Scientific Classifications

Plantae

Magnoliophyta

Magnoliopsida

Rosales

Rosaceae

Prunus

Prunus

Armeniaca

P. armeniaca




The apricot (Prunus armeniaca) is a species of Prunus, classified with the plum in the subgenus Prunus. The native range is somewhat uncertain due to its extensive prehistoric cultivation.



Description
Apricot tree in central Cappadocia, Turkey

It is a small tree, 8–12 m tall, with a trunk up to 40 cm diameter and a dense, spreading canopy. The leaves are ovate, 5–9 cm long and 4–8 cm wide, with a rounded base, a pointed tip and a finely serrated margin. The flowers are 2–4.5 cm diameter, with five white to pinkish petals; they are produced singly or in pairs in early spring before the leaves. The fruit is a drupe similar to a small peach, 1.5–2.5 cm diameter (larger in some modern cultivars), from yellow to orange, often tinged red on the side most exposed to the sun; its surface is usually pubescent. The single seed is enclosed in a hard stony shell, often called a "stone", with a grainy, smooth texture except for three ridges running down one side.
Apricot and its cross section

Cultivation and uses
History of cultivation

Apricots, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy201 kJ (48 kcal)
Carbohydrates11 g
Sugars9 g
Dietary fiber2 g
Fat0.4 g
Protein1.4 g
Vitamin A equiv.96 μg (11%)
- beta-carotene1094 μg (10%)
Vitamin C10 mg (17%)
Iron0.4 mg (3%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database


Apricots, dried
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy1,009 kJ (241 kcal)
Carbohydrates63 g
Sugars53 g
Dietary fibre7 g
Fat0.5 g
Protein3.4 g
Vitamin A equiv.180 μg (20%)
- beta-carotene2163 μg (20%)
Vitamin C1 mg (2%)


Iron
2.7 mg (22%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
The apricot was known in Armenia during ancient times, and has been cultivated there for so long it is often thought to be native there. Its scientific name Prunus armeniaca (Armenian plum) derives from that assumption. For example, De Poerderlé, writing in the 18th century, asserted "Cet arbre tire son nom de l'Arménie, province d'Asie, d'où il est originaire et d'où il fut porté en Europe ..." ("this tree takes its name from Armenia, province of Asia, where it is native, and whence it was brought to Europe ..."). An archaeological excavation at Garni in Armenia found apricot seeds in an Eneolithic-era site. However, the Vavilov center of origin locates the origin of the apricot's domestication in the Chinese region, and other sources say the apricot was first cultivated in India in about 3000 BC.

Its introduction to Greece is attributed to Alexander the Great, and the Roman General Lucullus (106–57 B.C.) also exported some trees – the cherry, white heart cherry, and apricot – from Armenia to Europe. Subsequent sources were often confused about the origin of the species. Loudon (1838) believed it had a wide native range including Armenia, Caucasus, the Himalaya, China, and Japan.

Today the cultivars have spread to all parts of the globe with climates that support it.

Apricots have been cultivated in Persia since antiquity, and dried ones were an important commodity on Persian trade routes. Apricots remain an important fruit in modern-day Iran where they are known under the common name of Zard-ālū (Persian: زردآلو).

Egyptians usually dry apricots, add sweetener, and then use them to make a drink called "'amar al-dīn."

More recently, English settlers brought the apricot to the English colonies in the New World. Most of modern American production of apricots comes from the seedlings carried to the west coast by Spanish missionaries. Almost all U.S. production is in California, with some in Washington and Utah.

Many apricots are also cultivated in Australia, particularly South Australia, where they are commonly grown in the region known as the Riverland and in a small town called Mypolonga in the Lower Murray region of the state. In states other than South Australia, apricots are still grown, particularly in Tasmania and western Victoria and southwest New South Wales, but they are less common than in South Australia.

Cultivation
Dried organic apricot, produced in Turkey. The colour is dark because it has not been treated with sulfur dioxide (E220)

Although the apricot is native to a continental climate region with cold winters, it can grow in Mediterranean climates if there is some cool winter weather to allow a proper dormancy. The dry climate of these areas is good for fruit maturation. The tree is slightly more cold-hardy than the peach, tolerating winter temperatures as cold as −30 °C or lower if healthy. A limiting factor in apricot culture is spring frosts: They tend to flower very early, meaning spring frost can kill the flowers. Furthermore, the trees are sensitive to temperature changes during the winter season. In their native China, winters can be very cold, but temperatures tend to be more stable than in Europe and especially North America, where large temperature swings can occur in winter. Hybridisation with the closely related Prunus sibirica (Siberian apricot; hardy to −50 °C but with less palatable fruit) offers options for breeding more cold-tolerant plants.

Apricot cultivars are most often grafted on plum or peach rootstocks. The scion from an existing apricot plant provides the fruit characteristics such as flavour, size, etc., but the rootstock provides the growth characteristics of the plant. Apricots and plums can hybridize with each other and produce fruit that are variously called pluots, plumcots, or apriums.

Apricots have a chilling requirement of 300 to 900 chilling units. They are hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8. Some of the more popular US cultivars of apricots include Blenheim, Wenatchee Moorpark, Tilton, and Perfection.

There is an old adage that an apricot tree will not grow far from the mother tree. The implication is that apricots are particular about the soil conditions in which they are grown. They prefer a well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. If fertilizer is needed, as indicated by yellow-green leaves, then 1/4 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer should be applied in the second year. Granular fertilizer should be scattered beneath the branches of the tree. An additional 1/4 pound should be applied for every year of age of the tree in early spring, before growth starts. Apricots are self-compatible and do not require pollinizer trees, with the exception of the 'Moongold' and 'Sungold' cultivars, which can pollinate each other. Apricots are susceptible to numerous bacterial diseases including bacterial canker and blast, bacterial spot and crown gall. They are susceptible to an even longer list of fungal diseases including brown rot, black knot, Alternaria spot and fruit rot, and powdery mildew. Other problems for apricots are nematodes and viral diseases, including graft-transmissible problems.
Production trends
Apricot output in 2005
Top eleven apricot producers—2005
(1,000 tonnes)
 Turkey
390
 Iran
285
 Italy
232
 Pakistan
220
 Greece
196
 France
181
 Algeria
145
 Spain
136
 Japan
123
 Morocco
103
 Syria
101
World total
1916
Source:
Turkey (Malatya region) is the leading apricot producer,[13] followed by Iran. In Armenia apricots are grown in Ararat Valley.
Kernels
Seeds or kernels of the apricot grown in central Asia and around the Mediterranean are so sweet that they may be substituted for almonds. The Italian liqueur amaretto and amaretti biscotti are flavoured with extract of apricot kernels rather than almonds. Oil pressed from these cultivars has been used as cooking oil.
Medicinal and non-food uses
Cyanogenic glycosides (found in most stone fruit seeds, bark, and leaves) are found in high concentration in apricot seeds. Laetrile, a purported alternative treatment for cancer, is extracted from apricot seeds. Apricot seeds "were used against tumors as early as A.D. 502. In England during the seventeenth century, apricot oil was also used against tumors, swellings, and ulcers". In 2005, scientists in the Republic of Korea found that treating human prostate cancer cells with amygdalin induces programmed cell death. They concluded that "amygdalin may offer a valuable option for the treatment of prostate cancers".

In Europe, apricots were long considered an aphrodisiac, and were used in this context in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and as an inducer of childbirth, as depicted in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi.

Due to their high fiber to volume ratio, dried apricots are sometimes used to relieve constipation or induce diarrhea. Effects can be felt after eating as few as three.

Research shows that of any food, apricots possess the highest levels and widest variety of carotenoids . Carotenoids are antioxidants that help prevent heart disease, reduce "bad cholesterol" levels, and protect against cancer. Although initial studies suggested that antioxidant supplements might promote health, later large clinical trials did not detect any benefit and suggested instead that excess supplementation may be harmful. In traditional Chinese medicine, apricots are considered helpful in regenerating body fluids, detoxifying, and quenching thirst.

Etymology

The scientific name armeniaca was first used by Gaspard Bauhin in his Pinax Theatri Botanici (page 442), referring to the species as Mala armeniaca "Armenian apple". It is sometimes stated that this came from Pliny the Elder, but it was not used by Pliny. Linnaeus took up Bauhin's epithet in the first edition of his Species Plantarum in 1753.

The name apricot probably is derived from a tree mentioned as praecocia by Pliny. Pliny says "We give the name of apples (mala) ... to peaches (persica) and pomegranates (granata) ..." Later in the same section he states "The Asiatic peach ripens at the end of autumn, though an early variety (praecocia) ripens in summer – these were discovered within the last thirty years ...".

The classical authors connected armeniaca with praecocia: Pedanius Dioscorides' " ...
ρμενιακ, ωμαιστ δ βρεκόκκια" and Martial's "Armeniaca, et praecocia latine dicuntur". Putting together the Armeniaca and the Mala obtains the well-known epithet, but there is no evidence the ancients did it; Armeniaca alone meant the apricot.

Accordingly, the American Heritage Dictionary under apricot derives praecocia from praecoquus, "cooked or ripened beforehand" [in this case meaning early ripening], becoming Greek πραικόκιον "apricot" and Arabic al-barqūq "apricot" (although in most of the Arab world the word now means "plum").

The English name comes from earlier "abrecock" in turn from the Middle French abricot, from Catalan abercoc. Both the Catalan and the Spanish albaricoque were adaptations of the Arabic, dating from the Moorish occupation of Spain. The name apricock is sometimes still used in English.

However, in Argentina and Chile the word for "apricot" is damasco, which probably indicates that, to the Spanish settlers of Argentina, the fruit was associated with Damascus in Syria.



In culture
The Chinese associate the apricot with education and medicine. For instance, the classical word 杏壇 (literally: 'apricot altar') which means "educational circle", is still widely used in written language. Chuang Tzu, a Chinese philosopher in 4th century BCE, told a story that Confucius taught his students in a forum surrounded by the wood of apricot trees.

The fact that apricot season is very short has given rise to the very common Egyptian Arabic and Palestinian Arabic expression "filmishmish" ("in apricot [season]") or "bukra filmishmish" ("tomorrow in apricot [season]"), generally uttered as a riposte to an unlikely prediction, or as a rash promise to fulfill a request.

Among United States Marine Corps tank-driving soldiers, apricots are taboo, by superstition. Marine Corps tankers will not eat apricots, allow apricots onto their vehicles, and often will not even say the word "apricot". This superstition stems from Marine Sherman tank breakdowns purportedly happening in the presence of cans of apricots.

The Turkish idiom "bundan iyisi Şam'da kayısı" (literally, the only thing better than this is an apricot in Damascus) means "it doesn't get any better than this" and used when something is the very best it can be; like a delicious apricot from Damascus.
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