Gilgit-Baltistan: Apricot- An all in one Miracle Fruit

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These days apricots are in season and add to the variety of fruit available in the market — the two varieties — a soft golden yellow or pink and cream coloured, both making a tasty tit-bit for a quick snack. According to information on their properties, apricots are low fat, saturated fat free, cholesterol free, sodium free, excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C, and a good source of potassium and fibre.

Apricots contain photochemical called carotenoids, compounds that give red, orange and yellow colours to fruits and vegetables. The powerful antioxidant Lycopene is one of the carotenoids found in apricots. Relatives to peaches, apricots are small fruits, with velvety skin and flesh, not too juicy, but definitely smooth and sweet, tasting like somewhere between a peach and a plum. Apricots are versatile and can be eaten raw; cooked to make jam or tarts; added to salads or any other innovative way you would like to utilise them. Apricots can also be dried to be used later and they are one of the main sources of income in Pakistan’s northern areas where they grow in abundance. Much of the crop used to be wasted because of improper drying methods, but there are some NGO’s which are working to solve the problem, among them Mountain Fruits (PVT) limited, initiated by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in 2000 as a fruit drying training programme for communities to improve traditional, unhygienic fruit drying system in the northern areas of Pakistan so that the disadvantaged, small farmers could organise themselves and produce a product of international quality to be able to sell it under the ‘Fairtrade’ mark to generate more income.

Apricot kernels can be used as a substitute for almonds, used in desserts or eaten as a snack. Apricot oil extracted from the kernel, is one of the by products of the fruit and is known for its healing properties. It is rich in natural vitamins (especially Vitamins A and E essential for our skin), linoleic, oelic and other essential fatty acids, minerals and other nutrients. This oil is good for two reasons: first of all, it gets absorbed by skin and leaves no traces or an oily feel and it does not cause allergic reactions even on the most sensitive skin. Other benefits include soothing, moisturising and nourishing the skin, as well as anti-inflammatory, cooling and other properties.

Unlike many other essential oils, this fine textured oil does not have any specific aroma and the best way to enjoy its benefits for the skin is using it for massage therapy. It can be recommended to those who have dry, sensitive or prematurely aged skin. Regular massages or face masks with apricot kernel oil can assist in revitalizing, refreshing and moisturizing skin, making it firmer, clearer and more elastic, prevent irritations and stimulate blood flow. This essential oil can be used not only for the skin of your face but for moisturizing and revitalizing your hands and neck. Apricot Oil Model Enterprise (AOE) is a subsidiary unit of Baltistan Enterprise Development and Arts Revival (BEDAR) a development cooperation between the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Aga Khan Cultural Service, Pakistan (AKCSP) and Baltistan Culture Foundation (BCF). It is producing pure apricot oil from organically grown apricot kernels through scientific processing and refining in a hygienic environment to sell under the brand name ‘Mountain Gold.’ Hunza Gallery is an organisation working for the sustainable development of Hunza, Chitral and Gilgit Baltistan. The main aim of Hunza Gallery is to market the organic and handmade products from the mountain regions of Pakistan to the rest of the world to generate employment for women of the mountain areas.

Courtesy: The News

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