Apricots arrive early in the bountiful summer fruit season. Their season is brief—from late May to early August. Currently, 97 percent of our domestic crop is grown on about 24,000 acres of the San Joaquin Valley. Sixty percent of the crop is canned and another 25 percent is dried. A scant 6 percent is sold fresh.
To be at their best, apricots must be picked when they are ripe and plump; unfortunately, when they are best for picking, they are at their most fragile for shipping. Many apricots are picked when not fully mature, which is a mistake because they will never ripen properly. They are either hard and bitter or soft and dry. Squeeze them or ask to taste one before you buy. With any luck, they will have been flown in.