Ripening Guide

Learn more about the many fruits of Toronto's Urban Orchard

Apricots

These relatives of the peach and plum are an especially tasty local treat. Apricots become golden when ripe, and grow to the size of golf balls or larger. They have soft flesh when ripe and a central pit. More so than other fruits, apricots tend to ripen all together and for a very short window of time so you’ve got to watch them closely.

  • July
  • August

How to tell when apricots are ripe: When the fruit has turned a golden, orange colour, has a strong, sweet smell, and is firm but has a bit of give when gently squeezed. If the apricots feel like rocks or are still greenish, let them continue to ripen on the tree.

Apricots will ripen after they’ve been picked and there are a few advantages to picking them when they are still a little underripe: you can get the fruit before the wildlife do (including hungry neighbours); and the fruit is less fragile when picked and transported underripe.

When to submit a pick request: We’ll need some advance notice to schedule your pick, so please submit a fruit pick request 3-5 days before your fruit is ready. Apricots ripen quickly so monitor them daily when they begin to yellow. A good time to submit your request is when most of the apricots have just lost their green hue and are beginning to soften.

Why is my fruit dropping? Apricots can drop off the tree before they are ready for harvest. This is often a built in safety mechanism if the tree produces a larger than normal number of blossoms. If too many of the flowers are pollinated, the tree will produce a large amount of fruit and drop some of it to lighten the load. Fruit can also drop because of apricot scab. If this is the case, brown scabs will form on the fruit.

Picking tips: Pick each fruit individually by hand or with picking poles, and separate fruit from the stem. Leave the green apricots on the tree to ripen further. Apricots bruise easily so be careful when picking and handling them, especially when using picking poles.

Storage tips: Underripe apricots can ripen on the counter or in a paper bag. Fold the bag and keep at room temperature for up to three weeks. When those little guys are golden in colour and pass the squeeze test (not too hard, not too mushy), place them in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy them.

Ripe apricots need to be stored in a refrigerator and will last up to a week. Apricots will not continue to ripen in the fridge, so make sure they are fully ripe before chilling.

Overripe apricots won’t last long, even if refrigerated. If your apricots are bruised, mushy, or otherwise damaged, don’t worry! They can be processed into delicious sauces, pies, and other baked goods!

Pruning Tips:

Heavy pruning is needed to keep the apricot tree producing. The best shape to keep your tree in is low and wide-spreading with no long branches. The basic idea of pruning an apricot tree is to allow space in the middle to let light come in. If you’re standing in the centre of the tree you want to look up and see nothing but clear blue sky! If you allow the centre of an apricot to close-up it will only fruit on the outside, and so you reduce the amount of fruit you’ll get. You want the middle of the tree to look like a mixing bowl. A good place to start is by clearing the centre of the tree. 

Follow the tips outlined in Pruning 101. Remove the 3Ds: dead damaged and diseased wood, and follow the CAC rule: remove any crossing, acute, and clustering branches. If in doubt, prune it out! The less interior branches you have, the better fruit you’ll have. 

Prune back all of last year’s growth to about 50% of its length. Make sure to prune to an outward facing bud. By pruning to an outward bud at the middle of the branch, leaving 50-60% of the new growth, you’ll have the most fruitful buds left at the outside of the tree.