Help! When are Apricots ripe?

For the first time since we planted it eight years ago our apricot tree is fruiting. Here in Denver there are often late storms that freeze out any blossoms, but not this year. We have fruit almost as large as a tennis balls. When is it ready to pick? I've read that commercial apricots are picked quite green and ripened off the tree and this is why they are dry and mealy. Indeed, this is why I stopped buying apricots decades ago. Ours are very juicy but still a bit hard. The ones that fall on the ground are wonderful but mushy from bruising.
Should I wait to let them get soft on the tree or pick the soft-ish ones now and ripen them in a bag at room temperature? I don't know what to do; we're going to have bushels and bushels...
sa
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I like to take mine when they turn a particular deep orangish red. They will not all be ripe at the same time, so daily, you will want to just pick the ripest ones. I test them by sticking my thumb in the cleft next to where the stem attaches. If it is nice and easy to split the fruit, then it is ready. It also depends on what you want to do with them, as to how firm/soft you want them. You can take them, and let them ripen in the fridge for a few days if you're afraid of the squirrels or birds getting them. A squirrel will strip a whole tree in a day, throwing away the meat and keeping only the seed. ;-(
Steve
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semi-ambivalent wrote:

I allow them to ripen on the tree to give the best flavour. If you have never had tree-ripened stone fruit of a good cultivar they will knock your socks off. You will need to check them every day or two and harvest progressively as they will not all ripen on the same day. Once they start to colour and soften slightly (which I take it has happened) your task will be to take the best fruit off the tree each morning and bite into it. It's tough but somebody has to do it. You will learn to tell if they are ripe by touch and smell fairly quickly.
David
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On 7\/17/2010 9:44 PM, semi-ambivalent wrote:

With peaches and apricots, I try and leave them on the tree as long as possible to get their maximum sweetness and flavor. However, when They start to feel soft, I pick them. For me, they should be soft on most of the surface. Sometimes the fruit will ripen first on one side that faces the sun. Of course, picking them a bit hard will give you a longer shelf life, but store them in the frig, in any case. Fpr canning, you also want them to be slightly firm.
I envy your apricot crop. My Moorpark kind of fizzled out this year, but I should have a good number of Redhaven peaches.
Sherwin
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I have had to learn pretty quickly! It was indeed an awesome crop; we had a lot of fruits that were almost as big as a medium peach. The trick *is* to pick daily. I couldn't so I rigged a 20'x20' bird netting under the tree to try and keep the fruits from hitting the ground and bursting open. Many still suffered damage from hitting branches on the way down . :(
The taste was spectacular; way beyond anything I've had from a store or private stand. We're having the tree pruned this winter to clean up the squirrel damage so I expect (if we have another easy Winter), I'll have to deal with this again next year. If I had it all to do again I'd have planted a peach. I (and our friends and co-workers) can stand to eat only so many apricots...
Thanks everyone for the help.
sa
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Remember for next year - the mushy ones are the best for drying.
Susan B.
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