Because of water loss, the vitamin and nutrient content of dried apricots is almost five times higher than that of fresh apricots. When the apricots are dried at low temperatures, they are still “raw.” Dried apricots are usually available in varieties either treated with sulfur dioxide or untreated. The treatment process serves to prolong the shelf life and preserve the original orange color, which is perhaps more attractive. However, we highly recommended that you eat only natural, untreated products.
From Wikipedia: “Prunus armeniaca ("Armenian plum"), the most commonly cultivated apricot species, also called ansu apricot, Siberian apricot, Tibetan apricot, is a species of Prunus, classified with the plum in the subgenus Prunus. The native range is somewhat uncertain due to its extensive prehistoric cultivation, though almost certainly somewhere in Asia. It is extensively cultivated in many countries and has escaped into the wild in many places.”
“Dried apricots are a type of traditional dried fruit. When treated with sulfur dioxide (E220), the color is vivid orange. Organic fruit not treated with sulfur vapor is darker in color and has a coarser texture. Generally, the lighter the color, the higher the SO2 content. Light-colored varieties (with the sulfur content of more than 2000 ppm) are banned in the European Union.
Apricots have been cultivated in Central Asia since antiquity, and dried ones were an important commodity on the Silk Road. They could be transported over huge distances due to their long shelf life. Before the 20th century, they were ubiquitous in the Ottoman, Persian, and Russian Empires. In more recent times, California was the largest producer, before being overtaken by Turkey, where about 95% of the production is provided by the Malatya Province.
Small apricots are normally dried whole. Larger varieties are dried in halves, without the kernel. In the former Soviet Union, the former are known as uryuk (урюк), used primarily for making kompots, and the latter as kuraga (курага). Ethnic foods based on dried apricots include qubani ka meetha in India and chamoy in Mexico.
Dried apricots are an important source of carotenoids (vitamin A) and potassium. Due to their high fiber-to-volume ratio, they are sometimes used to relieve constipation or induce diarrhea. Dried apricots normally do not have any sugar added and have a low glycemic index. The maximum moisture rate allowed in Turkey is 25%.”
“In a 100-gram amount, raw apricots supply 48 Calories and are composed of 11% carbohydrates, 1% protein, less than 1% fat and 86% water. Raw apricots are a moderate source of vitamin A and vitamin C (12% of the Daily Value each).
When apricots are dried, the relative concentration of nutrients is increased, with vitamin A, vitamin E, potassium and iron having Daily Values above 25%.”
“Apricots contain various phytochemicals, such as provitamin A beta-carotene and polyphenols, including catechins and chlorogenic acid. Taste and aroma compounds include sucrose, glucose, organic acids, terpenes, aldehydes and lactones.
In England during the 17th century, apricot oil was used in herbalism treatments intended to act against tumors, swelling, and ulcers.”
In popular culture:
“The Chinese associate the apricot with education and medicine. For instance, the classical word 杏壇 (literally: "apricot altar") which means "educational circle", is still widely used in written language. Chuang Tzu, a Chinese philosopher in the fourth century BCE, told a story that Confucius taught his students in a forum surrounded by the wood of apricot trees. The association with medicine in turn comes from the common use of apricot kernels as a component in traditional Chinese medicine, and from the story of Dong Feng (董奉), a physician during the Three Kingdoms period, who required no payment from his patients except that they plant apricot trees in his orchard upon recovering from their illnesses, resulting in a large grove of apricot trees and a steady supply of medicinal ingredients. The term "expert of the apricot grove" (杏林高手) is still used as a poetic reference to physicians.
The fact that apricot season is very short has given rise to the very common Egyptian Arabic and Palestinian Arabic expression filmishmish ("in apricot [season]") or bukra filmishmish ("tomorrow in apricot [season]"), generally uttered as a riposte to an unlikely prediction, or as a rash promise to fulfill a request.
The Turkish idiom bundan iyisi Şam'da kayısı (literally, the only thing better than this is an apricot in Damascus) means "it doesn't get any better than this".”