Armenia’s Golden Fruit
● Apricots have been cultivated for thousands of years in Asia and Europe. Europeans believed the apricot originated in Armenia and thus began to call it the Armenian apple.
Today about 50 different varieties of apricots are grown in Armenia. They are enjoyed from the middle of June till late August. The rich volcanic soil and the abundance of sunshine in Armenia give apricots grown there a distinct sweetness that causes many people to consider them among the tastiest in the world.
Common varieties are about the size of a small plum and can vary in color from light gold to deep orange. They have a velvety skin and firm flesh, they are not too juicy, and they can range in taste from sweet to tart. Some describe the taste of the more popular varieties as somewhere between that of a peach and a plum.
Apricot cultivators have produced a “black” apricot, but it is not a true apricot. Rather, it is a cross between an apricot and a plum. It has a deep-purple—almost black—furry skin and yellow flesh inside. This fruit is variously called pluot, plumcot, or aprium.
Apricot trees bloom before the leaves emerge, producing fragrant, white self-pollinating flowers. The flowers are similar to those of peach, plum, and cherry trees. The trees generally grow best where there are cold winters and warm summers, since they require a chilling period to flower and fruit properly. Armenia’s climate is therefore just right for them!
Fresh apricots have many health benefits. For example, they are an excellent source of beta-carotene and vitamin C. Many people are familiar with apricots in their dried state. This is because fresh ones are very fragile and perishable. As a result, in some parts of the world, dried apricots are more popular than fresh ones. Happily, dried apricots are also nutritious and are a good source of fiber and iron. In addition, they are used to make brandy, jam, and juice.
Moreover, beautiful wood carvings are made from the wood of the apricot tree, as is the duduk, a popular Armenian wind instrument, sometimes called the apricot pipe. In shops and markets around Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, tourists can also find lovely hand-carved souvenirs of apricot wood.
If you live in a part of the world where you can sample a fresh apricot, give it a try. No doubt you will not be disappointed by this tasty golden fruit.