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Super Healthy Meshmoush!

Contributing writer:  Yasmina OLABI, Licensed Dietitian

The unique agricultural nature of the Lebanese land and its distinctive weather create convenient agro-climatic conditions for a variety of crops to grow. The rich soil and the adequate sun exposure contribute to a uniquely-refined taste, excellent firmness, color and sugar content of fruits.

Amareddine or apricot “leather” left in the sun to dry

Apricot is one of the major fruits produced in the country, located mainly in the North of Lebanon and northern Bekaa. Besides being consumed fresh, apricots are transformed into jams and juice.

Traditionally grown varieties are locally known as Ajami (medium size and excellent taste!), Biady (light in color with a sweet flavor and low firmness), Um Hussein (perfect for jams!), Dehab asfar (or yellow gold big in size, firm and excellent for processing), moubaker (early variety with acidic flavor), frensewe or French variety and telyane or Italian both of low firmness and good taste.

Nutritional value of apricots 

Apricotsare extremely nutritious with a variety of health benefits. Their fibrous skin and their high soluble fiber content feeds the body’s healthy gut bacteria, consequently boosting the digestive health.  Besides this, apricots are an excellent source of vitamins that are essential for eye health.

Apricot orchards in Nabi Ayla, Bekaa ©Lebanon Traveler

Apricots are naturally high in antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the human body. They contain numerous antioxidants, most notably flavonoids, which help in protecting the body from oxidative stress that is linked to many chronic diseases. Along with potassium, apricots aid nerve signaling, muscle contractions, and fluid balance which may help in preventing high blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke. Moreover, antioxidants guard against the environmental damage of sunlight and pollution. These compounds benefit the skin by lowering the risk of wrinkles and sunburn.

Additionally, apricots are naturally high in water, which is essential for hydration. Proper hydration is vital for several aspects of health, including blood pressure and heart rate.

Two fresh apricots (70 grams) provide:

  • Calories: 34
  • Carbs: 8 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0.27 grams
  • Fiber: 1.5 grams
  • Vitamin A: 8% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin C: 8% of the DV
  • Vitamin E: 4% of the DV
  • Potassium: 4% of the DV

Apricot jam recipe:

Local producers use either the Ajami or the Um Hussein apricots varieties with preferably the latter in jam making.

Amila Azzam from Kherbet Qanafar, West Bekaa, prepares at home a wide variety of jams including her famous apricot jam with a unique golden color. She uses the “Frensewe” apricot from her small orchard. According to Amila, for each one kilo of apricot, half a kilo of sugar is added and then left to soak in the cooking pot from the evening till the next morning. Amila then put the soaked apricot on low heat with continuous stirring until apricots are dissolved and the required texture is reached. Ten minutes before turning the heat off, she adds lemon powder. When using fresh lemon juice, it is advised to add the juice of half a lemon in the middle of the cooking process and not at the end. Amila then fills the jam in glass jars while still hot, and closes them tightly. Jars are then places in the sun for a couple of days before storing in a cool and dry place for winter.

Caloric content of apricot jam:

To support local production, you can order your fresh apricots or apricot jam from local producers around Lebanon:

Apricot farmers:

Rola Faraj, Ain Zebdeh, Bekaa: 03-565 626

Khairat Ksarnaba Coop “خيرات قصرنبا”   , Raghida Dirani, Ksarnaba, Baalbek: 70-609 123

Zadat El Kheirat Coop “زادت الخيرات” , Raghida El Masri, Bedneyel, Baalbek: 03-796 248

Tamnin Coop, Tamnin El Fawka, Baalbek: 70-280 538

Kassem El Shabb, Arsal: 03-358 654

Apricot jam producers:

Khiara Coop “خيرات بقاعنا”, Najla Haidar, Khiara, West Bekaa: 70-566 456

Muhaidthe Coop “نجمة الصبح”, Rabah Jamal, Muhaidthe, West Bekaa: 70-561 410

Rashaya Gardens Coop “حدائق راشيا”, Linda Fayeq, Rashaya, Bekaa: 08-592 500

Khairat Ksarnaba Coop “خيرات قصرنبا”   , Raghida Dirani, Ksarnaba, Baalbek: 70-609 123

Zadat El Kheirat Coop “زادت الخيرات” , Raghida El Masri, Bedneyel, Baalbek: 03-796 248

Amal Abou Kheir, Rashaya, West Bekaa: 81-996 562

Roudaina Seif El Deen, Rashaya, West Bekaa: 76-704 314

Lina Haddad, Kherbet Qanafar, West Bekaa: 70-671 399

Amila Azzam, Kherbet Qanafar, West Bekaa, 76-144 202

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