What To Look For When Picking Apricots At The Grocery Store

When you think of apricots, you likely picture biting into a piece of ripe, juicy fruit fresh from the farmers market on a warm summer afternoon, a fresh breeze blowing as you savor the sweet and sour flavor.

While stone fruit, which includes apricots, peaches, plums, cherries, and other fruits with a stone or pit in the middle surrounded by fleshy fruit and thin skin (per The Pioneer Woman), is in its prime during the early spring through late summer months, the good news is that you're likely to find them in your grocery store's produce section year-round. While about 95% of apricots produced in the United States come from California, per Food Network, if you're purchasing them outside of their prime season during the fall or winter months, they were likely grown in South America, Australia, or New Zealand and shipped to your local grocer, per The City Cook. Regardless of the season, what should you look for when shopping for apricots at the grocery store?

Look for these sensory cues before adding to your cart

Apricots are at their juiciest when purchased at a farmers market during peak season, but when shopping for them at the grocery store year-round, here's a hint for finding the freshest ones in the bunch. Look for firm and plump apricots that are deep orange or gold in color, rather than pale orange or yellow, according to NPR. If it has passed the test thus far, give the apricot a light squeeze. It should give a little bit, but if it's too soft, that's a sign the fruit is past its prime. You can also rely on your sense of smell, as fresh and ripe apricots have a sweet, floral scent.

Once you get your apricots home if they need to ripen a bit further, leave them on the counter, but remember not to refrigerate stone fruit. Once apricots are ripe, they don't last very long, so be sure to eat them within a day or two of bringing them home from the grocery store, per Verywell Fit, if you plan on eating them fresh. On the other hand, if you plan on cooking with them, try preparing this recipe for apricot-cardamom preserves to slather on toast.