Dried apricots

What are dried apricots?

Turkey is the largest producer of dried apricots with 82% of the worldwide market. The best apricots (Prunus armeniaca) are grown in the Turkish Malatya region where their dried apricots have a dry matter content of 24–30%. By comparison, those from other regions have a dry matter content of only around 20%.

When the apricots are ripe, they are harvested by hand and then dried using two methods. The first is natural drying in the sun which results in a coarse-textured brown dried apricot. The second is sulphur dried. This is when the fresh apricot is treated with sulphur dioxide to reduce the sun drying time, increase its shelf life and retain a golden yellow colour. Sulphur dried apricots vary in colour from pale yellow to orange with the deeper colour indicating a higher sulphur content.

Once they have been dried, the apricots are washed and sorted into one of eight grades before being packed.

Generally, small apricots are dried whole with the larger fruit being halved and destoned before drying.

Health benefits

Dried apricots are an important source of vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin which is important for healthy vision, immune system function, reproduction, and healthy skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue.

They also provide a significant source of potassium with more than three times that found in bananas. And, only a trace of salt! Potassium is an essential mineral in the body for maintaining fluid balance, promoting muscle function and regulating the heartbeat. It is also important for healthy digestion and strong bones, blood pressure and may reduce your risk of having a stroke.

Dried apricots are rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre is essential for the maintenance of normal blood glucose and cholesterol levels. And their high fibre-to-volume ratio means they are sometimes also used to relieve constipation.

With no added sugar, these naturally sweet treats have a low glycaemic index. This means they slowly release sugar rather than causing sugar spikes. This is important if you have trouble regulating your blood sugar levels and makes them excellent for diabetics.

Recipes

Purchase dried apricots either semi-dried and succulent or fully dried. Be careful though, some semi-dried apricots have added syrup and are less beneficial due to their added sugar content. It’s best to always check the label before buying. Fully dried apricots should be soaked before using and can absorb large quantities of liquid.

Ideal for snacking but also delicious in tagines, stews and compotes. Also try them chopped in muesli, bread, stuffings and salads.

Energy ball recipes including dried apricots: