How to Ripen and Store Apricots at Home?

Here’s all you need to know about the storage, shelf life, and spoilage of apricots. Learn how to store apricots, how long they last, and how to tell if one has gone bad.

Bought a bunch of apricots and wondering what the best way to store them is?

Or maybe yours sit in storage for a couple of days already, and you need to know how to tell if an apricot is bad before you eat them.

If that sounds familiar, this article is for you.

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

Apricot in hand
Apricots are pretty small

Table of Contents

When Are Apricots Ripe?

Ripe apricots are plump and quite firm, but give some when you gently squeeze them between your fingers. They also give off a sweet floral aroma that’s difficult to miss if you give them a good whiff.

Unripe apricots are super firm and don’t give under gentle pressure at all. So those are the ones that need to be ripened before eating them.

(You can eat under-ripe apricots, but they’re going to taste quite sour and nothing like the sweet fruit you imagined.)

If your apricots are super soft or squishy, they’re overripe. Depending on their quality, you can either use them as soon as possible or discard them.

The same method works for other fruits that are sometimes sold under-ripe, including plums (here’s how long plums last) or nectarines (here’s how to ripen nectarines).

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

Apricots in a ventilated bag
A ventilated bag is a good option for storing apricots at room temperature while ripening

How to Store Apricots?

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

When storing apricots, remember the following:

  • Wash right before eating or using. If you absolutely have to wash apricots before storage, dry them thoroughly before placing them in the fridge or pantry. Washing fruits and veggies before storage is generally discouraged, and that’s because people then place half-dried produce in the refrigerator. That’s a recipe for mold growth.
  • Store away from strong odors. Apricots need some protection from smells. That could be in the form of a container or bag, or you can simply place them away from such foods. That’s why the crisper drawer is a good option, as one typically doesn’t store such foods there.
  • Don’t refrigerate until ripe. If you put under-ripe apricots in the fridge, they won’t fully develop their taste, and you’ll end up with sour apricots. You could open them up just fine, but the taste was pretty underwhelming. I’ve been there, so you don’t have to.

Now, let’s cover what you should do if your apricots aren’t ripe yet.

How to Ripen Under-Ripe Apricots?

To ripen apricots off the tree, leave them at room temperature but away from sunlight for a few days. To speed up the process, you can place them in a brown bag and perhaps even add a ripening apple or banana.

Also, make sure you give ripening apricots a check once a day.

Putting an apricot in a brown bag
Putting an apricot in a brown bag to speed up ripening

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

The ripening process is all about the ethylene gas and time. So by placing the apricots in a brown bag, you simply trap the ethylene they’re releasing, increasing its concentration.

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

Adding an apple to a brown bag
Adding an apple to speed up ripening
Warning

Don’t use a plastic bag for ripening. It will trap all the moisture inside, and your apricots might go bad before they ripen. Remember: room temperature plus moisture equals mold growth.

Should You Refrigerate Apricots?

Keeping apricots in the fridge isn’t a must, but it’s highly recommended because it significantly extends their shelf life. At room temperature, ripe apricots keep for only a day or two, while in the fridge they last for 3 to 5 days, sometimes even a week.

If you want to store apricots at ambient temperature, place them in a cold and dry spot away from sunlight and heat sources.

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

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

When it comes to refrigeration, ripe apricots like high humidity. To provide that, you can either leave them in the crisper drawer, where it’s naturally humid, or place them in a sealed bag that will trap that moisture and slow down its loss.

Storing Cut Apricots

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

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

Storing cut apricots in an airtight container
An airtight container is the best option for storing cut apricots

How Long Do Apricots Last?

CounterFridge
Apricots, unripe1 – 2 days, until ripe
Apricots, ripe1 – 2 days3 – 5 days
Apricots, cutup to 4 days

Unripe apricots need 1 to 2 days on the counter until they ripen. Once ripe, apricots last another 1 to 2 days at room temperature or 3 to 5 days in the fridge.

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

Cut apricots last up to 3 to 4 days when refrigerated in a freezer bag or airtight container. But if the fruit were softish from the get-go, it’d keep decent quality for only a day or two.

Whole and cut apricots

(Those storage periods might remind you of the shelf life of peaches, and you’d be correct.)

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

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

But if you brought home a bunch of softish overripe apricots that you got on sale, all you can hope for is a day or two of okayish quality.

Because of that, always check the quality of apricots when buying and choose ones depending on your needs:

  • Firm apricots if you want them to last a long time.
  • Just-ripe ones if you’re looking for a snack fruit that can last a couple of days.
  • Over-ripe apricots if you’re looking for cheap apricots that you can use to make jam or baked goods.

How to Tell if an Apricot Is Bad?

Your apricots are bad if:

  • They’re super soft, mushy, or seeping. Apricots start off firm and soften as they ripen. Once over-ripe, they’re soft and squishy.
  • They’re moldy or rotten. If you notice any mold on the skin or the flesh of the fruit, it’s game over. If there’s mold in the container or bag, discard a couple of nearby apricots.
  • The flesh is brown. Apricots are susceptible to internal breakdown and browning is one of its forms. If you open up an apricot and it’s brown inside, toss it.
  • You find worms in them. Worms in apricots aren’t a huge issue (unlike in cherries, for instance), but if you notice any holes or larvae, make sure to open up each fruit before eating.
  • They smell off. If a bunch of apricots gives off a “funny,” sour, or musty aroma, don’t eat them.

If anything else about your apricots seems off, discard them. Better safe than sorry.

Minor bruises on an apricot
Minor bruises on an apricot aren’t an issue

Now, softening and overall quality loss is what’s most likely to happen if you store apricots for too long. And there’s a whole spectrum here, as apricots gradually go from super firm all the way to squishy and gross.

So if your apricots are a bit on the softer side and you don’t think they’re good enough for a fruit salad or snacking, you can still use them in cooking.

There are hundreds of recipes that include apricots, including apricot cake, various sorts of muffins, quick breads, and the like. And they all should come out fine, even if your apricots aren’t of the firmest variety.

Apricots Storage and Shelf Life Summary

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

  • How to tell if your apricot is ripe? A ripe apricot gives in a little under gentle pressure and smells nice and sweet. If it’s firm and has no give, it’s not yet ripe, and if it’s soft or squishy, it’s overripe.
  • How to ripen apricots? Apricots ripen at room temperature. To speed up ripening, you can place them in a brown bag and maybe add other ethylene-producing fruits to that bag to accelerate things even more.
  • How to store apricots? Store unripe apricots at room temperature. Once ripe, you can refrigerate them for 3 to 5 days or leave them on the counter for a day or two.
  • How long do apricots last? Unripe apricots ripen after 1 to 2 days at ambient temperature. Once ripe, they keep for up to 5 days refrigerated and only 1 to 2 days if you leave them on the counter.
  • How to tell apricots are bad? Toss apricots that are squishy, mushy, moldy, or smell off. Also, always check the skin for any holes and open them up before eating to make sure there isn’t any unwanted company.