What Is Pit Burn: What Apricots Have Soft Center
By: Amy Grant
Apricots are one of the earliest rock fruits ready for harvest, ripening at the beginning to middle of summer. The anticipation for those first apricots of summer may be shattered if you discover apricots that have a soft center, otherwise known as pit burn in apricots. What is pit burn and is there a remedy? Read on to learn more.
What is Apricot Pit Burn?
Apricot pit burn, also referred to as ‘stone burn’ in apricots, is a when the flesh surrounding the apricot stone, or pit, browns and begins to soften. When caught early, fruit afflicted with pit burn is still edible as long as the fruit shows no signs of rot.
In many commercial apricot groves, growers are replacing some traditionally grown older varieties that are susceptible to pit burn with newer proprietary cultivars less inclined towards the disorder.
What Causes Soft Apricot Pits?
Apricots have soft centers or pit burn due to high temperatures. If temps reach more than 100 degrees F. (37 C.) prior to harvest, they are susceptible to developing pit burn defect. Pit burn develops between the time the fruit is green and colored enough to harvest. The high temps cause the flesh surrounding the pit to ripen more rapidly than the rest of the fruit. None of this can be seen from the outside of the fruit.
Drought conditions also play a role in what trees may be afflicted with pit burn. Apricots should have consistent moisture during a dry season to aid in cooling the tree. Although apricot trees flourish in Mediterranean climates with very hot days and little chance for frost, this tree needs well-draining, fertile soil with cooling and protection from hot, drying weather conditions.
As mentioned above, many commercial growers of apricots have replaced trees with a tendency towards pit burn with newer resistant varieties. Some of the most likely candidates to develop pit burn are:
- Autumn Royal
- Tri Gem
Using a potassium based fertilizer can make these trees less susceptible to pit burn defect.
Don’t plant apricots in regions where temps reach the triple digits or you will likely get pit burn in the fruit. Be sure to keep the soil cool with adequate irrigation and aeration. Spray trees down to cool them if the weather becomes too hot. Use high nitrogen fertilizer as little as possible. High nitrogen foods make the tree more susceptible to developing pit burn.
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Growing Apricot Pits
A question came in about growing apricots from pits, and because it would be a fun project to do with children, let's learn more. (The question is on the Seed of the Week: Apricots post.)
First of all, can you grow an apricot tree from a pit or seed? The answer is yes, it is possible.
Another issue is whether the fruit will be any good. When you grow seeds from plants that have not had controlled pollination, or where you don't know much about the source (such as a fruit you bought at the store), you are taking a chance. You will not be able to predict what the fruit quality will be until your tree is big enough to produce fruit. The good news is that peaches, nectarines and apricots show less variability in fruit quality than some other fruit trees do.
- reasonably fresh apricot pits
- hammer, vise or nut cracker to open the pit
- plastic close-top bag
- paper towels
- water source
Later you will need potting soil and a pot.
To grow a plant more quickly, you will need to get the almond-like seed out of the pit (the hard outer covering) without crushing it. If you are good with a hammer, you can set the pit on its side and with a single stroke the pit should break open. If you are not used to using a hammer, try a nut cracker or vise instead. Using pits that are clean and dry is easiest. As a last resort, you can germinate a seed in the pit, it will simply take longer.
Once you have the seeds out, wrap them in a clean, moist paper towel. The best way to prepare the paper towel is to wet it thoroughly and then wring it out until it is like a moist sponge. Try to keep everything as clean as possible, so you don't get a lot of mold growing. Place the paper towel with the seeds in it in a plastic bag and set them in a window.
Check regularly for changes. Water as needed to keep moist. Change the paper towels if things start to look moldy. Once the roots start to emerge, transfer the seeds to a pot full of potting soil and water regularly. After a few months you can replant outside, depending on the planting season in your climate. Contact your local fruit tree growers organizations or Cooperative Extension for growing tips in your area.
Stratification or not?
Some people recommend giving apricot seeds a period of cold temperatures (less than 40°F) for over 60 days prior to germination. Subjecting seeds to cold is called stratification. There seems to be some disagreement about whether apricots really require cold to germinate or not. It is possible that the fruit you buy has been held at cold enough temperatures already. To hedge your bets, save a few seeds, wrap them in moist paper towels as described above and store them in a fridge. If the ones in the bags don't germinate within a few weeks to a month or so, try again with the ones you have chilled after 60 days. Sometimes it just comes down to luck with getting the conditions right.
The person in this video does not mention chilling and yet she seems to have been successful. She does suck the air out of the bag, perhaps to keep down mold?
Aren't those plants inspiring?
If you grow some apricots, peaches or nectarines from seeds, we'd love to hear what works for you.
When a living tree is cut down, the timber needs to age or "season" for a minimum of six to nine months before burning. Freshly cut wood, called green wood, is loaded with sap (mostly water) and needs to dry out first. It’s hard to light and once you get it going, it burns very efficiently and smokes horribly.
If you’re unsure if the wood is green, ask the seller when it was cut. You can also check the bark: firmly attached bark that’s still sticky with sap when you nick it is a bad sign.
Sprouting Apricot Pits
Sprouting apricot pits is easy. You germinate apricots just like you germinate peach pits… and if you watch my video, you’ll be starting your own apricot trees from seed in no time.
Look at the beautiful apricot pit bursting into life!
That said, no matter how many times you do something, once you do it on film you start to worry if you did it right.
When I did my “How to Germinate Peaches (and Other Stone Fruit)” video back in July I hoped I would have some success, even though I’ve done this before and never had it fail:
After buying the fruit, doing the work to make a nice video and posting it to YouTube… doubts entered my mind.
Could the fruit I chose be sterile? Might the pits fail to germinate and just mold over instead? Should I have cracked the pits first and just taken out the kernels?
Will the universe conspire against me to make everything I do fall into weeping and ashes?
Now I have no idea if I can get an apricot to grow in the tropics but, by golly, I’m going to give it a go. I know it will be fine for the first half-year until it needs a winter dormancy. Maybe I can build a big outdoor fridge! Sprouting apricot pits is just the start… now I actually need to grow the trees.
That said, if my seedling peaches are any indicator, we’re going to do fine with the tree part:
Apricots are one of my favorite dried fruit. I wish I’d tried this with apricot pits back in Florida or Tennessee where I’d have a better chance of getting fruit, but we’ll try tricking them into fruiting here by leaf-stripping during the dry season. It could happen, and if not: well, we pulled off a good demonstration on how to germinate apricots, at least! The other pits haven’t germinated yet but they can take a few months. I’ll bet we get a few more soon.
Apricot Nectar/Apricot Puree
Stem, wash, drain, peel, and remove pits if necessary. Measure fruit into large saucepan, crushing slightly if desired. Add 1 cup hot water for each quart of fruit. Cook slowly until fruit is soft, stirring frequently. Press through sieve or food mill. If desired for flavor, add sugar to taste. Return pulp to boil or heat until sugar dissolves. Fill clean jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Adjust lids and process. Remember to use processing time for local altitude (see chart below). Process either by boiling water bath or by pressure canning.
Preparing and Using Syrups
|В||Measures of Water and Sugar||В|
|For 9-Pint Load*||For 7-Quart Load|
|Syrup Type||Approximate% Sugar||Cups Water||Cups Sugar||Cups Water||Cups Sugar||Fruits commonly packed in syrup**|
|Very Light||10||6 1/2||3/4||10 1/2||1 1/4||Approximates natural sugar level in most fruits and adds the fewest calories.|
|Light||20||5 3/4||1 1/2||9||2 1/4||Very sweet fruit. Try a small amount the first time to see if your family likes it.|
|Medium||30||5 1/4||2 1/4||8 1/4||3 3/4||Sweet apples, sweet cherries, berries, grapes.|
|Heavy**||40||5||3 1/4||7 3/4||5 1/4||Tart apples, apricots, sour cherries, gooseberries, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums.|
|Very Heavy||50||4 1/4||4 1/4||6 1/2||6 3/4||Very sour fruit. Try a small amount the first time to see if your family likes it.|
Procedure: В Heat water and sugar together. Bring to a boil and pour over raw fruits in jars. For hot packs, bring water and sugar to boil, add fruit, reheat to boil, and fill jars immediately.
*This amount is also adequate for a 4-quart load.
** Many fruits that are typically packed in heavy syrup are excellent and tasteful products when packed in lighter syrups. It is recommended that lighter syrups be tried, since they contain fewer calories from added sugar.
Recommended Processing Times for Apricot Products in Boiling Water Canner
|Apricot Halves or Slices||Processing Time at Altitudes of|
|Style of Pack||Jar Size||1-1,000ft||1,001-3,000ft||3,001-6,000ft||Above 6,000 ft|
|Apricot Puree / Nectar|
|Hot||Pints or Quarts||15 min.||20||20||25|
Processing Time for Apricot Products in Dial Gauge Pressure Canner and Weighted Gauge Pressure Canner
Apricot Seed Side Effects
There are many potential side effects of apricot seeds, most of which relate to the danger of cyanide poisoning. Essentially, if you ate enough of these seeds to experience any side effect, the symptoms of cyanide toxicity would be the first to appear and would be the most serious. 
Cyanide poisoning has many different symptoms, even in their mildest form, including nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, fever, rash, exhaustion, insomnia, thirst, muscle weakness, dizziness, cognitive confusion, inflammation in the joints and muscles, and rapid drops in blood pressure. In the most extreme cases, apricot seeds consumption can lead to coma, seizure, and even death. It should not be given to children.  
Apricot Questions and Answers
Browse our most frequently asked Blenheim apricot product questions.
What is a Blenheim?
The Blenheim Apricot, also known as the Royal Blenheim, traces its roots back to the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris and in England. Blenheims were grown in Europe nearly 200 years ago and flourished in the garden at Blenheim Palace in England, birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. They arrived in California in the 1880s. The Blenheim apricot is commercially grown and sun dried only in California.
The Blenheim is a delicate stone fruit due to its thin skin. It bruises easily and is used specifically for the production of dried apricots. It is harvested by hand and dried under the California sun, capturing their intense flavor.
Due to their expensive processing, the Blenheim is available in limited quantities. It is actually considered “endangered” by Slow Food USA and with the rapid closure of orchards and with no other Blenheims grown outside California, it is on the verge of extinction. BUT NO WORRIES! B & R Farms is one of the largest grower & has farmed the Blenheim since 1929, spanning 4 generations with the 5th being raised to appreciate and continue this fantastic fruit.
How do I store my apricots?
Dried apricots will keep many weeks left out in a jar for snacking, but they will start to loose moisture after a few weeks. Also, if they begin to darken in color, that means that the sulfur is dissipating. They are still good to eat. Make sure that your apricots are stored in an air-tight container to prevent both moisture loss and darkening.
The best way to store a large supply of dried apricots is in your refrigerator (for several months) or in your freezer (for more than a year), sealed in a large resealable plastic freezer bag or jar.
How are dried apricots preserved?
There is a small amount of sulphur dioxide added to the fruit to preserve the color, otherwise the apricots would be dark in color.
Unsulfured apricots are available in limited supply. For unsulfured apricots, click here
What is Chutney?
Chutney is a sweet or spicy condiment usually served as a side that enhances the flavors of a main dish. Its origins come from the Middle East and vary from wet or dry, coarse to fine and made from a combination of vegetable or fruit and herbs & spices, which are simmered slowly to release the full flavors of all the ingredients.
Mari Rossi’s mother, Barbara Breen loved chutney! Over 35 years ago, she developed the recipe that is still used today to produce B & R Farms Chutney. Her recipe is a complex blend of dried Blenheim apricots and cranberries, ginger, mustard seeds, curry powder, almonds and more. This chutney gives poultry, seafood, lamb, many vegetables and pork a tasty bite. It is also incredible as a sandwich spread or poured over cream cheese and served with crackers for a quick appetizer!
What are Royal Medallions?
The Royal Medallions are the top of the line WHOLE apricot with just the pit slip out by hand. Also known as "Slip Pits". This grade is an instant dessert or appetizer. Try adding a smear of goat or blue cheese and top with a almond or walnut half. Absolutely delicious!
What are Slab Apricots?
Slabs are harvested at a high degree of ripeness. They are a true orange color. This ripeness makes them so soft, juicy and sweet that they cannot hold their shape when they are cut and sun dried. The result is a slightly irregular shaped dried apricot that is absolutely delicious.
Slab apricots are perfect for lunch boxes and as a snack out on the golf course or the trail.
What is the nutritional information of dried apricots?
Dried Apricot Nutritional Guide (based on 6 apricots, 42 g):
What type of chocolate do you use?
Premium Guittard Chocolate in California is used on all of our chocolate covered apricots. We offer milk and dark chocolate on the Nibbles and a mix of white, milk and dark on our Treasures. PLEASE NOTE: Our chocolate covered apricots are very heat sensitive. To ensure the highest quality products for you, we may not be able to ship them during the hot summer months.