4 December 2023

Here’s everything you need to know about apricot storage, shelf life, and spoilage. Learn how to store apricots, how long they keep, and how to tell if one has gone bad.

Have you bought a bunch of apricots and wondering how best to store them?

Or maybe yours have been in storage for a couple of days now, and you need to know how to tell if an apricot is bad before you eat it.

If that sounds like you, this article is for you.

But before we get into storage practices and shelf life, you have to know if your apricots are ripe or not. So we’ll start with that.

apricot in hand

When are apricots ripe?

Ripe apricots are plump and quite firm, but give a bit when you squeeze them gently between your fingers. They also give off a sweet floral aroma that is hard to miss if you smell them right.

Unripe apricots are super firm and don’t give at all when pressed gently. So they are the ones that have to mature before eating them.

(You can eat underripe apricots, but they will taste quite tart and not at all like the sweet fruit you imagined.)

If your apricots are super soft or mushy, they are overripe. Depending on their quality, you can use them as soon as possible or throw them away.

The same method works for other fruits that are sometimes sold underripe, such as plums (here you can see how long plums last) or nectarines (here you can see how to ripen nectarines).

Now let’s talk about how to store apricots and how to ripen unripe ones.

Apricots in ventilated bag

How to store apricots?

Store immature apricots at room temperature, away from sunlight, until ripe. Once ripe, you can leave them out on the counter for 1-2 days, or refrigerate them in a plastic bag or crisper drawer for 3-5 days.

When storing apricots, remember the following

  • Wash them just before eating or using them. If you absolutely must wash the apricots before storing them, dry them well before placing them in the fridge or pantry. Washing fruits and vegetables before storing them is generally discouraged, and that’s because people then put the half-dried produce in the fridge. That’s a recipe for mold growth.
  • Store it away from strong odors. Apricots need some protection against odors. That can be in the form of a container or bag, or you can simply place them away from those foods. That is why the vegetable drawer is a good option, since these foods are not normally stored there.
  • Do not refrigerate until ripe. If you put underripe apricots in the fridge, they won’t fully develop their flavor, and you’ll end up with tart apricots. You could easily open them, but the flavor would be quite disappointing. I’ve been through it, so you don’t have to.

Now we are going to see what you should do if your apricots are not yet ripe.

How to ripen underripe apricots?

To ripen apricots on the tree, leave them at room temperature but out of direct sunlight for a few days. To speed up the process, you can place them in a brown bag and even add an apple or banana to ripen them.

Also, be sure to check the ripening apricots once a day.

Put apricot in paper bag

Like other fruits sold unripe, apricots only need to sit at room temperature on the counter for a few days. After 1-3 days, you should notice them starting to soften slightly, and that’s when you know they’re ripe.

The ripening process depends on ethylene gas and time. So by placing the apricots in a brown bag, you simply trap the ethylene they are releasing, increasing its concentration.

Adding other ethylene-producing fruits to that same bag is the same thing: making sure there’s more ethylene around.

Add apple to brown bag
Do not use a plastic bag for ripening. It will trap all the moisture inside, and your apricots could go bad before they’re ripe. Remember: room temperature plus humidity equals mold growth.

Should you refrigerate apricots?

Keeping apricots in the fridge is not an obligation, but it is highly recommended because it considerably extends their shelf life. At room temperature, ripe apricots keep for only a day or two, while in the fridge they last 3 to 5 days, sometimes even a week.

If you want to keep the apricots at room temperature, place them in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight and heat sources.

Also, make sure that the fruits can breathe, so that any moisture that may be there evaporates quickly. That means using a ventilated bag, basket, fruit bowl, or at the very least keeping the plastic bag half open.

And while we’re at it, store ripe apricots away from ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables.

As for refrigeration, ripe apricots like high humidity. To provide it, you can leave them in the crisper drawer, where they’re naturally moist, or place them in a sealed bag that traps that moisture and slows its loss.

Storing cut apricots

Cut apricots require refrigeration. Store them tightly closed in freezer bags or airtight containers for up to 4 days.

When choosing between a bag and a container, choose what is available or what makes the most sense for you.

Storing cut apricots in an airtight container

How long do apricots last?

Counter Fridge
Apricots, unripe 1 – 2 days, until ripe
ripe apricots 12 days 3 – 5 days
Apricots, sliced up to 4 days

Unripe apricots need 1-2 days on the counter to ripen. Once ripe, apricots will keep an additional 1-2 days at room temperature or 3-5 days in the fridge.

If you need more time, you can freeze them or make apricot jam.

Cut apricots keep up to 3-4 days if refrigerated in a freezer bag or airtight container. But if the fruit were soft from the start, it would only stay of decent quality for a day or two.

Whole and sliced ​​apricots

(These storage periods can remind you of the shelf life of peaches, and you would be right.)

As always, the storage time depends on the quality and ripeness of your apricots.

If you bought them ripe or ripened them yourself, you can easily get those five days of refrigeration. Maybe even seven days, if you’re lucky.

But if you’ve brought home a handful of overly soft apricots that you’ve picked up on sale, all you can hope for is a day or two of decent quality.

Therefore, always check the quality of the apricots when buying them and choose one or the other depending on your needs:

  • Firm apricots if you want them to last a long time.
  • Just ripe if you are looking for an appetizer fruit that can last a couple of days.
  • Overripe apricots if you are looking for cheap apricots that you can use to make jam or baked goods.

How to know if an apricot is bad?

Your apricots are bad yeah

  • They are super soft, mushy or dripping. Apricots start out firm and soften as they ripen. When they are overripe, they are soft and mushy.
  • They are moldy or rotten. If you notice mold on the skin or flesh of the fruit, it’s game over. If there is mold on the container or bag, discard a couple of apricots nearby.
  • The pulp is brown. Apricots are susceptible to internal decay and browning is one of its forms. If you open an apricot and it’s brown on the inside, throw it away.
  • Find worms in them. Worms on apricots aren’t much of a problem (unlike on cherries, for example), but if you do notice any holes or grubs, be sure to open each fruit before eating.
  • They smell bad. If a bunch of apricots give off a “funny,” sour, or rancid aroma, don’t eat them.

If anything else about your apricots looks odd, discard them. Better safe than sorry.

Minor bumps on the apricot

However, softening and general loss of quality is most likely to occur if you store apricots for too long. And there’s a whole spectrum here, as the apricots gradually go from super firm to mushy and yucky.

So if your apricots are a little softer and don’t seem good enough for a fruit salad or snack, you can still use them in cooking.

There are hundreds of recipes that include apricots, such as apricot tart, various types of muffins, quick breads, and the like. And they should all turn out just fine, even if your apricots aren’t the firmest variety.

Summary on the storage and preservation of apricots

Thank you for reading this guide on apricots. Let’s briefly recap what we’ve covered above:

  • How to know if your apricot is ripe? A ripe apricot yields a little when pressed gently and smells nice and sweet. If it’s firm and won’t give in, it’s not ripe yet, and if it’s soft or mushy, it’s overripe.
  • How do apricots ripen? Apricots ripen at room temperature. To speed up ripening, you can place them in a brown bag and perhaps add other ethylene-producing fruits to that bag to speed things up even more.
  • How to store apricots? Store immature apricots at room temperature. Once ripe, you can refrigerate them for 3-5 days or leave them on the counter for a day or two.
  • How long do apricots last? Immature apricots ripen after 1-2 days at room temperature. Once ripe, they keep up to 5 days refrigerated and only 1 or 2 days if you leave them on the counter.
  • How to know if apricots are bad? Throw away apricots that are soft, mushy, moldy, or smelly. Also, always check the skin for holes and open them before eating to make sure they don’t have any unwanted company.

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