In Turkey, they say “bundan iyisi Şam'da kayısı" which literally translates into, the only thing better than that is apricot in Damascus. And in Egypt, they say “fel meshmesh,” or in the apricot, to indicate the impossibility of a happening – the ever-precious apricot is only in Egyptian markets momentarily every year.
You could intrepidly travel the globe in sweetly glorious search of the Apricock / Abrecox in olde English, Abricot in French, Albaricoque in Spanish / Damasco in Argentine and Chile, al-burquk in Arabic and through the times from antiquity, when the fruit was known as praecox or praecoquus, which means ‘early’ – the apricot matures much earlier in the season than its cousins the plums, which has caused many an apricot grower headaches. The sincere thoughts on the apricot that you landed upon in your grand journey would be admiring, no matter where or what time and discipline you were surrounded by.
The great, singularly venerated Chinese sage Confucius may have taught while surrounded by apricot trees, which are native to China. In homage to this possibility, the ancient Chinese doctor Tung Fung asked his patients to plant apricot trees in lieu of payment for treatment. Thereby, they seeded an apricot forest of a hundred thousand trees. And, it came to represent doctors and medicine for the Chinese. It naturally follows that apricots are important in traditional Chinese medicine.
The Roman general and legendary patron of the arts and culture Lucius Licinius Lucullus, who lived from 118 BC til 57 / 56 BC, was able to count among his multitude of notable achievements that of transporting apricot trees from Armenia to Europe. 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” – to induce labour in the Duchess, as was then believed fresh fruit could do.
The voluptuous flavour of the apricot is matched by the pleasing appearance of the fruit. The colour ranges from a subtle and soft yellow to a vivid orange hue which may exhibit reddish overtones; the cheeks are parted by a gentle divide. If you endeavoured to split the apricot, you would see that the warm colour palette continues into the flesh. The smooth surface and the humble size of the apricot make it a tactile delight, and it is no wonder that a multitude of artists as well as writers have crafted work in its honour. From anonymous Chinese painters of the Ming dynasty to gritty contemporary East London artists coming together in an exhibition called Apricot Juice, there is no shortage of those who have been bewitched by the apricot muse.
A particularly charming fact: the first known text in English written about painting by a female artist was a short treatise on painting apricots by Mary Beale in 1663. Beale wrote poetically and intensely on the colouring of apricots, saying among other things, “Color will bee raw & fierce; in ye pale yallow places …..Let yorheigthenings in yor very ripe apricots bee whitelead, pale Mast: and a litle redlead. in les ripe ones less or none of ye red lead. Let yor shadowes bee pinke.”
Apricot in modern day
In the contemporary day, apricots are cultivated in regions from Armenia – where six thousand year old apricot seeds have been uncovered – to the Americas. English settlers to the United States originally introduced apricots to the country, but most of the apricots currently produced in the USA sprout from plants brought to California by Spanish settlers. From Syria to the Mediterranean and Australia, today many more people than solely the titled are able to regularly enjoy the honeyed flavour of this fruit. Iran, Italy, Pakistan, and Turkey lead the world in apricot production.
Apricots, or Prunus armeniaca, are the fruit of a beautiful, small to medium sized tree with pinkish white flowers; appropriately, the leaves have the shape of a heart. The boughs spread generously and bring protective shade to any creature that walks beneath. The apricot’s closest relative is the plum; other intimate family members include cherries, peaches, and almonds. The larger Rosaceae family tree spreads out to accommodate apples, berries, the mountain ash tree, and further flowering and flourishing kin.
The kernel, or the stone of the apricot, is also of historical use. Extract of apricot kernel is used instead of almond oil to sweeten the traditional Italian Amaretto liqueur and to make amaretti biscotti, while ground apricot kernel is mixed with coriander seeds and salt to make the Egyptian snack of dokka. Apricot kernel oil was used in England to treat tumours and ulcers in the seventeenth century. In the North-West Himalayas it is typically used to treat skin and hair; in India, this ingredient finds its way into massage oils in order to soothe physical soreness.
Thanks to all these factors and the glow that apricot kernel oil gives to your skin and hair, this ingredient makes star appearances in many beauty products.
Why should I put apricot kernel oil on my body?
Extremely light and sinking beautifully into the skin and hair, apricot kernel oil nourishes and helps to retain moisture without any greasiness. Like almond oil, you can smooth it onto the under-eye area to restore and revive the delicate skin there; when used on the hair, it brings shine. Thanks to all these factors and the glow that apricot kernel oil gives to your skin and hair, this ingredient makes star appearances in many beauty products. It is also one of the best carrier oils, which means that you can add other essential oils very effectively to it. This makes it desirable as a massage oil or for use in aromatherapy. For all this, apricot kernel oil is not the best choice for those experiencing acne. It is somewhat comedogenic and may clog pores.(1)
Research shows that apricot kernel oil can also be quite effective in treating psoriasis. This skin condition often proves difficult to address medically for the 2% of the world’s population that it affects. Apricot kernel oil fights psoriasis by helping new, healthier skin cells to form.(2)
What makes apricot kernel oil work?
Apricot kernel oil cares so well for the skin and hair because it is fecund with polyphenols, or natural micronutrients found in plants. You can best source polyphenols from the actual fruits, rather than access via extracted supplements. Apricot kernel oil is also very rich with polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Could I also eat and drink my apricot kernel oil?
Although most apricot kernel oils on the market are only intended for cosmetic use, if formulated to food grade standard this oil can be used both externally and internally. The kernels must be properly prepared for ingestion in order to remove amygdalin, a naturally occurring substance in many fruit seeds, which is converted by the human body into cyanide. Amygdalin can be safely neutralised.
What are some of the healthy substances that apricot kernel oil contains?
High in unsaturated fats, apricot kernel oil offers an abundance of vitamin E. NIH acknowledged this nutrient to have antioxidant properties. In addition, apricot oil contains Vitamin A, essential for normal vision and immune system.
Omega 3’s, 6’s, and 9’s are valuable to have in one’s diet in the proper ratio and from the most viable sources.(3) Apricot kernel oil contains some very healthy omega-6 essential fatty linolenic acids; these are important for brain development and function. Oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid is also present in this excellent oil.
How can I best use apricot kernel oil as a cooking ingredient?
The rich yet fine nuttiness of this oil make it complementary to many types of dishes, from soups and salads to pasta dishes; it is not suitable for use as a frying oil. As the oil is quite delicate, you should keep in a cool, dark place and use within ten to twelve months. The flavour is pleasingly sweet and light, but also earthy, as nuts are. Although almond oil and apricot kernel oil taste quite similar, apricot kernel oil offers a more nuanced, fresher and more botanical aroma and taste which is quite captivating. We recommend using one tablespoon of apricot kernel oil daily over a variety of dishes.
A particularly tasty way to enjoy apricot kernel oil would be drizzled onto a salad. Have a go at this Buddha bowl of corn, Romaine lettuce, radish, red beans, tomato, and cucumber. Top it with tart lemon juice, spicy chilli, and sea salt. This dish offers good fats and protein as well as a pleasing mix of textures. Whether as a quick weekday lunch or as a light supper, this Buddha bowl brings an abundance of healthful flavour.
What research has backed the health benefits of apricot kernel oil?
A 2014 study showed that apricot kernel oil relieved colon inflammation and ulcers in rats, which could be useful in treating IBD [Inflammatory Bowel Disease].(4) Three separate studies in 2011 and 2009 showed that the oil was also beneficial for cholesterol levels and for heart health. Also, it boosted the antioxidant status of the liver in rats.(5)(6)(7) Although apricot kernel oil is often used in alternative medicine to fight cancer, more research is needed to verify results. Research does show that because of the good balance of dietary fats that apricot kernel oil contains, it is helpful in assisting the immune system regain balance after chemotherapy.(8) These are some of the highlights; there have been many more positive and reputable studies done into the health benefits of apricot kernel oil.
Key apricot kernel oil benefits
In summary, apricot kernel oil:
- Brings radiance to skin and hair
- Is lovely as a massage oil
- Boosts heart and circulatory health
- Contains an abundance of nutrients, which help the body ward off harmful free radicals
- Is highly anti-inflammatory
- Helps to maintain and re-balance the immune system
- Is a flavourful, delicate oil that complements a wide variety of dishes wonderfully
Erbology Apricot Kernel Oil
Erbology Apricot Kernel Oil is organic and cold-pressed. This preparation method means that valuable chemical compounds native to the oil will remain wholly intact. Erbology Apricot Kernel Oil is vegan, gluten-free and clean of any preservatives or genetic modifications.
Enjoyed reading this article? We love exploring and bringing you nature’s marvels that can help you lead a more wholesome life. Learn more about aloe vera, bergamot, Jerusalem artichoke, sea buckthorn and many more.
Maya Chia, Here I Go Again
In at least one Mayan language, ‘chia’ means ‘strength’. It seems reasonable to conclude that this probably derives from the huge amounts of energy that this tiny seed stores within its body. In the past, the chia seed held a supernatural aura. Today the acclaim and prestige it carries acts as a kind of twenty-first-century version of this. Continue reading
The incredible benefits of aronia berries
Many American first nations used aronia berries as a food staple. They ate the berry itself raw or dried and mixed with pemmican. The Jicarilla particularly, dried the fruit and pressed them into cakes which they stockpiled for the winter months. The fresh berries could be mashed and made into a jam, or simply left to ferment and used as cherry wine. Every single part of the plant had a use. Even its bark and roots can be boiled to produce a form of medicinal tea. Continue reading
Forget Red Bull, sea buckthorn’s what really gives you wings
Said to be a symbol of dignity and power, legend has it that Pegasus grazed through the day on common forage while holding a special place for the sea buckthorn plant whose tart orange berries sustained arduous flights around the empire and Mount Olympus. It’s obvious that the ancient Greeks were familiar with and amazed by sea buckthorn’s potential. Probably because it played a large part in the diet of Greece’s best racehorses, some scholars have referred to it humorously as ‘the Pegasus plant’. Continue reading
Aloe vera, from Alexander the Great to the 21st century
Legend has it that acting upon the advice of Aristotle, Alexander the Great besieged and conquered the aloe vera capital of the ancient world. Lying roughly 150 miles east of the Cape Guardafui coast, the Island of Socotra produced a large portion of the Mediterranean’s aloe vera. In doing so, Alexander secured a steady stream of the healing plant to his army. Continue reading
Amaranth, a symbol of Aztec power and a staple in the modern kitchen
For the people of Mesoamerica, gods and nature where not distinctly separate as they are in Judaeo-Christian faiths. They projected character traits of nature into the personalities of different gods. Conversely, they saw parts of these gods in natural objects found throughout the region. One significant crossover lay in the amaranth plant. So important was this tall plant, with its broad green leaves, that during the festivities of Huitzilopochtli the community built a divine statue from its seeds. Continue reading
(1) “Apricot Kernel Oil”. Oil Health Benefits, 2018, https://bit.ly/2TJalRI.
(2) Li et al, “Bitter apricot essential oil induces apoptosis of human HaCaT keratinocytes”. Int Immunopharmocology, 2016, https://bit.ly/2TIkxtx.
(5) Kutlu et al, “Protective effect of dietary apricot kernel oil supplementation on cholesterol levels and antioxidant status of liver in hypercholesteremic rats”. Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment Vol. 7 (3&4), 2009, https://bit.ly/2I9YxXg.
(6) Zhang et al, “Protective effects of apricot kernel oil on myocardium against ischemia-reperfusion injury in rats”. Food Chem Toxicology, 2011, https://bit.ly/2GCTvA1.
(7) Abdel-Rahman, Manal K, “Can apricot kernels fatty acids delay the atrophied hepatocytes from progression to fibrosis in dimethylnitrosamine (DMN)-induced liver injury in rats?”. Lipids Health Dis, 2011, https://bit.ly/2tfVdQ3.
(8) Tian et al, “Apricot Kernel Oil Ameliorates Cyclophosphamide-Associated Immunosuppression in Rats”. Lipids, 2016, https://bit.ly/2MYgYNg.