The aphrodisiac history of apricots
At one time, the English called apricots “apricock.” I am not sure at what point the name changed but its recorded that in the court of James I, “apricocks” were commonly served as an aphrodisiac treat. And it was thought that Shakespeare referred to apricocks as a sexual allusion. (No surprise, really! Shakespeare adored a good aphrodisiac allusion.)
On the other side of the world, Australian aboriginals used apricots as an aphrodisiac. The apricot’s pit, or kernel, was steeped as a tea. The flesh of the fruit was crushed and rubbed on the suitor’s erogenous zones as a pre-coital perfume.
And while it is not entirely clear why ancient peoples first elevated the spring stone fruits to their mythical status, today we know that these seductively soft little fruits are packed with beauty-enhancing nutrients. A single serving of fresh apricots provides over 50% of your daily intake of beta-carotene--(which is a potent antioxidant). They are also a good source of iron, a key nutrient for fertility in women. And the wealth of nutritional benefits also extends to the candy-like dried fruit. Although they’re high in sugar, dried apricots offer a trace of iron and magnesium. In addition, they contain vitamin E (aka the sex vitamin), vitamin A and fiber.
Apricots do have one rather sad, anti-aphrodisiac use. An old practice of Middle Eastern camel herders was to block the uterus of the female camels with an apricot kernel to prevent pregnancy.
Although their growing season is short, these stone fruits are a golden symbol of summer as the first of the stone fruits to ripen. Pureed, fresh apricots can make an excellent fat-free oil or butter substitute in moist cookies and cakes. Pound cake may take on a new meaning.