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Diced and Dried is the New Fresh

I just love summer fruit, especially apricots. This golden fruit is related to the plum and the peach and is native to northern China and other areas of Asia where temperate weather conditions support the propagation of these fruits.

InIsrael, where I grew up, it is believed that the apricots were abundant there by the year 3000 BC. I guess through the centuries, the apricot made its way along the trade route like many other precious commodities did during those ancient days.

Here's an interesting tidbit about the apricot: It is said that in Biblical times, the tree would always produce more fruit than any one family could consume, so through experimentation they figured out that the apricot could be laid to dry in the sun and eaten later. This methodology became invaluable and is still used to this day.

In the Middle East, dried apricots are consumed much more than the fresh fruit, and are widely used in many culinary recipes. Some of the best dried apricots actually come from Turkey where they had developed a science in producing and drying them.

I like dried and diced apricots the best. They are light and crisp and have a terrific balance of tart and sweetness, just like fresh apricots. Where the freeze-dried process removes most of the moisture from the fruit, it makes up for it by maintaining the fresh concentrated taste, texture and natural color of the fruit.

Diced and dried apricots can add an absolutely delicious flavor to baked items like muffins, scones, cakes and for making smoothies, or as a topping in cereal, granola and oatmeal. They make a great tasting snack when mixed with assorted nuts or just on their own. In our household we would add dried fruit to rice and couscous dishes, so at Whole Spice, we made our own version of rice and couscous mix using dried apricots, almonds along with a few choice spices and herbs. Cooking a tagine-style Moroccan dish has never been easier with these ready-made seasonings.

Not only do dried apricots taste great, they are packed with nutrients, vitamin A, and anti-oxidants. They are easy to include in your daily diet, and their sweetness makes them a palatable food item that you will come to love. If you have not already incorporated dried apricots into your food regimen, try it and see for yourself the great benefits these tiny fruit pieces have to offer.

Because dried apricots taste so good, and are a perfect natural snacking alternative to candy and other processed sweets, you would still need to eat them in moderation as it is easy to consume more than you actually need at one time.

I think dried and diced apricots are a great summer food item that can be used directly in your recipe, or re-hydrated in any fruit recipes. They are sweet, tart, light and oh so delicious. Try tossing them into your salad, or creating your own style of using these naturally tasting fruit. The great thing about dried & diced apricots is that they can be eaten all year long.

In the meantime, here's a tasty summer recipe idea:

Apricot Couscous Salad - click link