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New ARS apricots pack a flavor punch

20-Jul-2005

Flavorful new apricots known as "Kettleman" may soon hit the supermarket shelves, claim US scientists.

The juicy, sweet-tart fruit is the latest addition to the series of stone fruits developed by the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) San Joaquin Valley center in California.

The apricots, with a deep-orange skin, ripen early: Kettleman is ready to harvest from about May 15 through May 25.

Fruit pieces, used increasingly in food products, can contribute sweetness and colour to the end brand, as well as adding mouthfeel and texture, particularly relevant for fat replacement.

In addition, fruits act as natural humectants which can extend the shelf life of many foods and contain a host of phytochemicals linked to benefits for human health.

In 1992 ARS research geneticist Craig A. Ledbetter at Parlier selected Kettleman as a front-runner among other apricot seedlings.

The trees have been planted in regions of the valley where other early-season apricots, like Earlicot and the ARS-developed Castlebrite, already flourish.

California growers produce nearly all of the nation's harvest of apricots for fresh-market sale and for processing into dried fruit, nectar, puree, jam, jelly, pastry filling, candy and other foods and beverages.

On the nutrition front, apricots provide iron, potassium, fiber, vitamin C and beta-carotene which the human body converts into vitamin A.

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