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Apricot blossoms are available during the late winter and early spring months, if frost has not destroyed them.
Apricot blossoms are the edible flowers of the Prunus Armeniaca tree that precede the small, peachy-orange fruits that later develop in the summer. Apricots are members of the Rosaceae family, and classified as a stone fruit alongside plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines and almonds. Apricots trees are classified into three groups: Central Asian, Persia-Caucasian and European, with blossoms varying only slightly between them. There are dozens of different apricot cultivars that are bred for early, mid and late season ripening, superior flavor, flesh quality, coloring and even the ability to withstand long-term shipping. Popular apricot names include Blenheim, Sungold, Wilson Delicious, Hunza and Royal Rosa.
Apricot trees are a deciduous tree reaching approximately 9 meters tall with a canopy spanning 6 meters wide. It bears elliptic leaves with serrated margins and are generally wider than those of other stone fruit trees. Apricot blossoms have five bright white petals that can sometimes be tinged with pink. From the center of the blossom multiple stamens grow tipped with yellow pollen. The edible blossoms have a mild apricot flavor with a sweet floral aroma and subtle texture.
Apricot blossoms can be used as garnish on any number of savory or sweet dishes. They impart little flavor or aroma, are therefore most often used as a visual accent. Add to salads or top panna cotta or crème brulee. Use Apricot blossoms in cocktails made with apricots, or float in iced apricot tea.
Apricot blossoms are said to symbolize ‘timid love’ and can be given as a gift from an admirer. Their beauty inspired this famous 9th century Japanese Waka-style poem by Sugawara no Michizane: “When the wind blows from the east, Let the wind send your perfume to me, My dear apricot. Though you are no longer with me, Don’t forget blooming in the spring.”
The apricot is native to and originally discovered in the mountainous regions of north central and north western China. Trade routes, exploration and time would spread the fruit from Asia into Europe and eventually the New World. Most New World apricots are of European origins. Central Asian apricots are still relatively new to North American growers as they do not have the visual appeal of plumper European varieties, yet they are considered to be the most delicious in fruit flavor and texture. Apricot trees are fairly disease resistant and do not respond well to fertilizers. Fertilizers encourage weak growth and make trees more susceptible to disease and insects. The trees love full sun, hot dry summers and sheltered cool to cold but frost-free winters.