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Diane Miller

Apricots: A summer favorite

    Apricots are one of the first signs of summer and one of my favorite summer fruits. Apricots are available fresh from May to August, with peak season being June and July. They are also available all year canned and dried.
    Apricots are excellent sources of vitamins A and C and are also good sources of iron, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and fiber.
    Apricots are smaller than most peaches with a smooth, velvety golden orange skin and flesh. It is ripe when plump and juicy. Apricots have a delicate flavor and aroma. They are also very perishable. It is best to ripen them at room temperature and then store them in the refrigerator.
    It is believed that apricots originated in China and that cuttings made their way to the Mediterranean. They were introduced to the New World, particularly California, by the Spanish. Almost 95 percent of the apricots grown in the United States are grown in California.
    In addition to begin eaten fresh, apricots can be halved or sliced then frozen in syrup and made into jams and preserves.
    Apricot Jam
    (About 10 half-pint jars)
    2 quarts crushed, peeled apricots
    6 cups of sugar
    1/4 cup lemon Juice
    Sterilize canning jars. Combine all ingredients; slowly bring to boiling, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly until thick, about 25 minutes. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Pour hot jams into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids.  Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.
    For more information on food preservation, contact Diane at (912) 871-0504, dianem@uga.edu or ugaextension.com/bulloch/fcs.

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