Apricots, with their velvety soft skin, are particularly popular with the Swiss. However, not all locals know that the orange fruit is grown directly in their own country — despite the fact that apricot production has been a tradition in Valais for many years and is part of the cultural heritage of the canton of Valais.
Apricots from Armenia
The Valais apricots originally came from Armenia. The first apricot trees were planted in 1838 by Gabriel Luizet, a farmer in his day, in the Valais. In doing so, he laid the foundation for the current apricot tradition in Switzerland, of which the people of Valais are still particularly proud today.
Swiss Apricot Culture
The Swiss apricots are planted between Sion and Martigny and are often sold along the cantonal road during the summer. The Luizet variety, named after the farmer Gabriel, has long been grown in Valais.
There are now around 50 varieties that are planted and harvested in Switzerland. Depending on the ripening time, these are ready for harvest from June to mid-September and complement our fruity menu. Around 97% of Swiss apricots are planted in Valais. The most popular varieties also include Orangeres, Goldrich and Flopria.
Varietal Diversity and its Characteristics
All three varieties have different characteristics and properties that make them stand out. Thanks to their bright colour and juicy flesh, the Orangeres are unmistakable. The large fruits of the Goldrich variety can be stored very well and have a long shelf life. And the Flopria convinces with its extremely firm skin and orange-red colour, which makes it a robust and popular variety.
The varietal diversity is an important pillar for the Canton of Valais. For instance, the apricot harvest accounts for around a third of the gross yield of the vegetable and fruit sector in the region. In addition, the producers create 1,000 seasonal jobs a year in total. The seasonal workers pick almost 10,000 tonnes of apricots, which we are delighted to consume each year.
Apricots: Sweet, Tart and on the Skin
In addition to the fresh apricots from the tree, the Valaisians turn the delicious fruit into various other products, as the fruit has a lot to offer in addition to numerous vitamins and minerals! Over the decades, numerous specialities have been developed which are highly cherished and in great demand.
The most popular products include the fruit brandy Abricotine, sweet syrup and apricot jam. A famous Swiss ice-cream producer developed a certified apricot sorbet and has been refreshing Swiss palates in the hot summer months ever since. The Valais apricots have also been used in skin care products since 2010, with the natural antioxidants providing a fresh and radiant complexion.
This means that both sweet and tart delicacies can be made from the versatile fruit, giving free rein to the producers’ creativity. As a result, the range is expanded almost every year and the producers always have new creations for apricot lovers.
Culinary Summer Delight
In conclusion, the sweet to tangy Valais apricots not only belong to the culture of the southern Swiss canton, but are also one of the most popular fruits in Switzerland. That’s why Valais apricots are an integral part of summer culinary delights and have become an indispensable part of the local menu.