An apricot is a type of small, pitted fruit that grows throughout the world, including the United States, France, Greece, Italy, Turkey, and Russia. It is generally considered to have a sweet flavor with a slightly tart undertone, similar to a plum or peach. Although the fruit is often enjoyed fresh, it may be dried in order to preserve the fruit so it can be eaten when it is out of season. Dried apricots are made from peeled apricots that have the pits removed and are dehydrated. They can be used raw or cooked in a variety of sweet and savory dishes.
Apricots may be dried naturally or with the use of a commercial or home dehydrator. Naturally dried apricots are typically produced by removing the pit and peel of the fruit, and then laying it on a flat surface, such as a rock, outdoors until the sun dries out the fruit’s moisture. The process length may vary depending on the humidity and temperature of the area, but a common range of drying time is from six to nine days. Apricots that are dried artificially are usually produced with a dehydrator, a device that uses a low, steady heat to slowly pull out the fruit’s moisture. Prior to drying, sulfur dioxide, a chemical compound, may be added onto the fruit to prevent discoloration.
When dried apricots are used in sweet dishes, they are generally soaked or cooked with a liquid, such as water, wine, or juice. The liquid adds moisture to the fruit and makes it plumper and softer, which may help prevent it from drying out and becoming tough if used in recipes that call for a longer period of baking or cooking time. One of the most widely used sweet recipes for the dried fruit is compote, a dish in which the apricots are cooked with a combination of liquid, such as water, citrus juice or wine, and a sweetener, like honey or sugar, until the mixture boils and forms a thick syrup. Apricot compote may be eaten as is, but is also often served atop ice cream or yogurt.
Dried apricots are also often called for in savory recipes. They tend to be soaked or cooked in liquid, similar to sweet recipes, in order to preserve their texture during the heating process. Apricots are often used in thick sauces and stews, particularly a Moroccan stew known as tajine, which gets its distinctive flavor from the dried fruit. The fruit is generally considered to pair well with pork, poultry, veal, and beef.