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Erbology
Apricot kernel oil benefits

Apricot kernel oil benefits

Team ErbologyErbology

Rich in polyphenols and monounsaturated fats, apricot kernel oil benefits range from skincare to circulatory health. 

April 26, 2023 7:37 pm

‘The only thing better is an apricot in Damascus’

We humans fell in love with the humble apricot thousands of years ago, and with good reason. With its sweet, delicious fruit and precious kernel, the apricot has earned its place in fruit bowls and pantries all over the world.

The apricot hasn’t always made it easy for us, though. In ancient times, the apricot was known as ‘praecox’ or ‘praecoquus’, meaning ‘early’. Apricots mature earlier in the season than their cousins, the plums, causing many a headache for ancient farmers.

Scholars believe that the Chinese philosopher Confucius might have taught his students surrounded by apricot trees, which are native to China. Paying homage to the tradition, the ancient Chinese doctor Tung Fung asked his patients to plant apricot trees in lieu of payment for his treatment. The resulting forest grew to a hundred thousand trees and came to represent doctors and medicine for the Chinese. It’s not a surprise, therefore, to find that apricots are important in Chinese medicine.

It isn’t just China that venerates this special fruit. In Egypt, the apricot only appears on the markets at a specific time every year. This gave rise to the saying ‘fel meshmesh’, or ‘in the apricot’., which would roughly translate to ‘once in a blue moon’ in English.

However, it’s a Turkish saying that really captures our universal love of the apricot. ‘Bundan iyisi Şam’da kayısı,’ the saying goes. ‘The only thing better is an apricot in Damascus.’ 

apricot tree

The art of the apricot

Such is our esteem for the apricot that it has made many appearances in everything from royal gardens to famous plays.

The Roman general and legendary patron of the arts Lucius Licinius Lucullus, who lived from 118 BC until around 56 BC, brought Apricot trees to western Europe from Armenia. In England, apricots have been carefully and lovingly cultivated since the times of Henry VIII – but were reserved for the aristocracy.

William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” features the fairy queen Titania directing her subjects to feed Bottom with apricots, an intimation of sensuality and marvellous indulgence. Dramatist John Webster used apricots to different but equally striking effect in “The Duchess of Malfi”. Here, the Duchess ate apricots to induce labour, as many believed fresh fruit could do at the time.

A key scene in Mikhail Bulgakov’s classic Russian novel ‘The Master and Margarita’ features two characters meeting in a park over warm apricot juice.

‘Color will bee raw and fierce’

Apricots are pleasing to both the eye and the palette.

The colour of the fruit ranges from a subtle and soft yellow to a vivid orange hue with reddish overtones. The shape is similar to a peach. Under the bright skin, the warm colour palette continues into the flesh.

The smooth surface and the humble size of the apricot make it a tactile delight. It is no wonder that a multitude of artists as well as writers have crafted work in its honour. Anonymous Chinese painters of the Ming dynasty sit unexpectedly alongside gritty contemporary East London artists in their love of the apricot.

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