(By Sehrish Fatima*, Mujahid Ali**, Ammara Ainee*)
(*IFSN, UOS; **Horticulture, UOS)
A consumer today is more likely to inclined towards the neutraceuticals (a pharmaceutical-grade and standardized nutrient) rich foods. In order to quench free radicals and reactive oxygen species produced in biological systems, there are external sources via diet are required to meet bodily requirements. Apricot is prominent among stone fruits due to significant functional potentials. It has a lot of rich nutritional content in terms of crude fiber, fibers, proteins, sugars, minerals, vitamins, A, B, C and K and organic acids i.e. malic acids and citric acids. It has a lot of phenolic and flavonoids which turn it into more likely to be a functional food. In Gilgit Baltistan, it is considered to be the most charming source of income among stone fruits and has the highest market share. It has important uses in folk medicines as a cure for cold, fever, cough.
Apricot was known, appeared and cultivated back to as approximately as 2000 B.C. in states of China and Central Asia. Country trade men who traveled across `Great Silk Road`, migrated apricot along with them. The apricot fruit was presented before Persia by the merchants of China who was a Botanist, Berthold Laufer suggests apricot to Persians. They named it as` Yellow Palm` (ZARDALOO). It was popularized across the Eurasian Steppe, throughout by tribes who are horseback riding nomadic people.
Apricot, member of a rose family, whose companions include plum, cherry, peach, almond is scientifically known as `Prunus armeniaca` which is a mark from a land from where it has emerged as a fruit. By the Romans in first century A.D. when they came to know about it designated it as practicum, `the precious one`.
It was then indicated to them that fruit sprouting comes and appeared in early summer. Hurricane, tornados, strong winds, or frosts are dangerous sources for injury of the apricot tree. This soft and fleshy fruit remained appealing and favorite to Royals and Aristocrats. The beauty of apricots has been a captivating source for writing poetry for many poets like an English writer Ruskin, who portrayed it as `shinning in a sweet brightness of golden velvet`. This luxurious food travels from Central Asia to the Middle East by conquering Arabs. Apricot was stretched from Tus in Northeast Persia to their capital in Baghdad by ruling caliphs of vast Islamic empire between Gulf to Sicily in between A.D. 750 and 1258.
Al- barqouoq `apricot in Arabic` has a lot of dishes made by prevailing chefs of courts, adopted in a lot of Islamic Dominions. To boost up their meat dishes, Arabs from Persians picked up the technique of adding tangy fruits i.e. cherries and apricots. Apricot was exploited by Arabs to soothes their buds by sugary confections. The medieval syrup in which apricot juice is blended with sweet almonds was a pioneer of fruit drinks later hawked by vendors or sold in cafes in the middle east. It also beautifies repertoire of Arabic desserts.
Apricot complemented its relative i.e. almond or almond paste. Pureed apricots were often perfumed with either rose or orange blossom water with topped pistachios or almonds. It came across all of the Islamic dominions. It became famous in Spain, Syria, Damascus. In the Middle East to preserve its whole years produce it was conserved in form of paste and then sun-dried. Today paste is being proceeded by Mohamed el- Shalati, owner of Damascus company. Egyptians like to eat dried apricots. In England during 17th-century apricot oil is used as treatment as herbalism. Apricot was brought to English colonies in the new world by English people in the 17th century. In 2005 leading producer was Turkey followed by Iran, Italy, Pakistan, France, Algeria, Spain, Morocco, Japan, Syria. Now a day they are popular in Egypt and Iran, but production in united states is low. Iran, Uzbekistan, and Algeria are major producers.
Apricot is much delicious fruit. It is consumed both fresh, processed and dried. Considering above mentioned benefits, we should eat it in its season. Present trends in nutrition sciences have curved people more likely to consume fruits and vegetables to make up their nutritional needs and maintain a healthy life. Fruits are important tool and junction of health-promoting ingredients. So, fruits should be consumed in ample amounts to cure a lot of chronic diseases and to neutralize harmful effects on the body.