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Moorpark apricots are available in the late spring through early summer.
The Moorpark apricot, also written as Moor Park, is botanically known as Prunus armeniaca cv. ‘Moor Park.’ The Moorpark apricot has played a varied role throughout history, being mention in Jane Austen’s novel, Mansfield Park, and being a favored variety by Thomas Jefferson to grow at his home in Monticello. It is even said that the city of Moorpark, California was named after the Moorpark apricot trees growing in the area.
The Moorpark apricot tree produces large, round fruit with bright golden orange skin and a firm light orange flesh. Offering an overall juicy and sweet flavor, the Moorpark apricot is a later season apricot with exceptional taste.
Moorpark apricots are known for their juicy pulp, exceptional flavor, and pairing well with other stone fruit including cherries, plums, and nectarines. Apricots can be eaten raw, dried, pureed, roasted, grilled, baked or cooked into jams. They can be utilized for fresh fruit salads, for savory salads and appetizers and for desserts. Other complimentary pairings include arugula, dandelion greens, honey, egg custards, seafood such as scallops and prawns, lavender, lemon, orange, cardamom, pistachio, cayenne, pepitas, mascarpone, burrata, chevre, vanilla, white chocolate, yogurt, hazelnut and olive oil. Apricots can be added to cakes, muffins and cookies and be made into ice cream and gelato. It is best to store apricots at room temperature to allow ripening then store in the refrigerator for only a few days.
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. The Moorpark variety was introduced into England in 1760 and was named for the estate where the tree first fruited. In the 1790s Thomas Jefferson ordered Moorpark apricot trees to plant at his home, Monticello.