Apricots

History

Apricots are originally from the high mountain regions of central Asia and North Eastern of China. Romans then spread apricots trees in Italy, Spain and Greece. They only appeared in the XVth century in France. The Spanish missionary brought apricots trees in California and begun cultivation.

Today, Turkey is the biggest producer of dried apricots in the world. The production area is in Anatolia in the Malatya region. Indeed, the climate is perfectly appropriate for apricots farming. 

Production

Nowaday, apricots are produce in Turkey, in all Mediterranean countries, in Iran, in China, in USA, in South Africa and in Australia.

Estimated World Dried Apricots Production 2013/2014
Countries PRODUCTION per TONS
TURKEY                         140 345  
IRAN                            22 400  
CHINA                              5 700  
USA                              1 600  
SOUTH AFRICA                              1 500  
AUSTRALIA                                 600  
OTHERS                            28 800  
TOTAL                         200 945  

Source : nutfruit.org

Harvest

We will take the example of Turkey for the harvest because it is the main producer of dried apricots.

The harvesting period is during July.

All the harvesting is traditional and manual. Indeed, when the fruit is ripe, the producer put a cover under the tree and shake it at least three times to gather the fruits.

Then, the fruits are put into locker during 12 hours for a treatment with sulphur. This method permits a better preservation and keeps an orange colour because the sulphur avoid oxidization.

After, they are dried with the sun during three days. At the end of that step, apricots are half dried and they are pitted by hand.

Finally, they are once again put on a cover to dry with the sun during three or five days.

 

Countries of origin

Turkey, Iran, China and USA

Some countries are major producer of apricots but for different uses. Indeed, an apricot can be fresh, in a preserving jar and dried.

Varieties

There is two types of apricots trees: wild and domestic. The wild apricots trees produce sour apricots while domestic apricots trees produce sweet apricots.

Turkish apricots are the most sweet in comparison with all the others countries.

Grades:

In Turkey, grades are determined by the number of dried apricots per kilogramme. Besides, there is a difference between sulphured apricots and non-sulphured apricots. Turkish apricots’ particularity is their shape because they are whole. In others countries, dried apricots are in half.

The quality take into account different criteria as defects, freckles, damages… Dried apricots are classified into three categories:

Classe Extra ; Classe n°1 ; Classe n°2

 

About size, it’s the number of apricots per kilogramme.

No. 1:   81 − 100  ; No. 2: 101 − 120 ; No. 3: 121 − 140 ; No. 4: 141 − 160 ; No. 5: 161 − 180 ; No. 6: 181 − 200 ; No. 7: 201 − 220 ; No. 8: 221 − 240 ; No. 9: 241 and more

 

American grading system retain the size of the fruit for grading.

Standard < 13/16 inches

Choice 13/16 inches − 1 inch

Extra Choice  Inch − 1 inch 1/8

Fancy 1 inch 1/8 − 1 inch 1/4

Extra fancy 1 inch 1/4 − 1 inch 1/8

Jumbo > 1 inch 1/8

 

Iran just takes on the Gheisi variety, dried apricot for consumption and industrial grade.