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Do Apricot Seeds Go Bad (and How Do You Store Them)?

Whether you’re looking at growing apricot trees or eating the seeds (which is a controversial topic), it can be helpful to know when apricot seeds go bad. After all, you don’t want to spend time nurturing an apricot seed that won’t grow or bite into something rotten, moldy, or slimy. So, do apricot seeds go bad?

Apricot seeds can go bad if they aren’t cleaned and dried properly. If there’s moisture or pieces of fruit leftover, the seed can develop mold and rot. A good way to use apricot seeds is to dry them at the end of the season and start them 4 weeks before the last frost or sow directly at the start of spring.

There’s no single cut-off point at which point apricot seeds become unusable. Several variables contribute to the seed’s expiration date, meaning every seed will be useable for a different amount of time. The good news though, is that all of these variables are pretty easy to control, so you can take steps to make sure your seeds last for a long time. Let’s take a further look at how long apricot seeds might last, and how to store them.

How Long Do Apricot Seeds Last?

Apricot fruit split open and apricot seeds

Apricot seeds can last up to 3 years, but they need to be properly processed and stored. Cleaning, drying, and keeping them in a dry, dark place will help them last longer. Reducing the amount of oxygen can also slow the spread of bacteria and mold, so ziplock bags or air-tight containers are good measures to take.

The way that you store seeds is going to have the biggest impact on when they turn rancid. Apricot seeds that are stored in an airtight container and in a cool, dark place are most resistant to spoiling. They also don’t react well to humidity, so maintaining a low humidity is a must.

In general, nuts and seeds that are exposed to air, heat, ultraviolet light, and moisture will degrade and turn rancid quicker.

What’s the Best Way to Store Apricot Seeds?

The best way to store your apricot seeds is in a fridge or a cellar. This will help keep them useable for as long as possible. The seeds will also stay fresher in an airtight container, so resealable bags are a great option. Vacuum sealing your seeds is an even better way to maintain freshness.

Once you gently clean your apricot seeds with water and remove the fruit, you can leave them on a paper towel on the kitchen counter for 24-48 hours. If you have a low level of humidity, they should dry out fairly quickly. Placing them in the back of a refrigerator also works well to dry them out.

You might also consider freezing your seeds, although it isn’t strictly necessary for apricot seeds. Some seeds are resistant to extreme temperatures at either end of the spectrum, so freezing your seeds will always be a risk. However, provided they are still useable after the freezing process, they will last much longer.

Other good places to store apricot seeds include keeping them in a container in the back of the pantry or garage (depending on the garage’s humidity levels). Remember that the drier they are, the fewer chances bacteria and mold can take hold. But how do you know if your apricot seeds have gone bad?

How Do You Know if Seeds Have Gone Bad?

The two methods to know if your seeds have gone bad or not is with a water or germination test. For the water test, place your seeds in a pot of water. In 10-15 minutes, see if they sink or float. If they sink, they’re still good. The germination test is done by placing your seeds in a damp paper towel for 5-10 days.

The reason why the water test can work is that when seeds go bad, they start producing gas as a byproduct, and hold some of it inside. This is what makes them float. Even though this can work with apricot seeds, this is not the case for all seeds and, generally, can be somewhat of an unreliable method.

On the other hand, the germination test is a much more reliable method as the seed can’t germinate if it’s gone bad. To start the germination test, put several seeds in a damp paper towel and then place it inside a ziplock bag. Store in a cool, dark place.

With this method, most seeds germinate after 5 days, while others take 10+ days. A good rule is to check your seeds daily for germination or mold. But be careful not to disturb the seed as if it’s germinated, the root can be woven throughout the paper towel and can break when unfolded.

How Do You Grow an Apricot Tree From a Seed?

1. Germination

Once you’ve successfully stored your apricot seeds, you’re ready to use them! First, you’ll need to let your seed germinate (an easy way to do this is by using the paper towel and baggie method above). Sprouting an apricot seedling can takes up to two months.

2. Decide on Potting or Direct Sowing

Next, you can decide if you want to place them into a pot to grow, or sow directly in the ground.

If you decide to keep them in a pot, you can keep them outdoors during the winter months if you choose. However, keep in mind that the apricot seeds can make a tasty meal for squirrels and other rodents. You’ll need to cover the seeds to protect them from hungry foragers.

3. Plant in the Spring (or Start Indoors 4 Weeks Before the Last Frost)

You can then plant your healthy little seedlings in the early springtime. The trees will grow best in temperate climates, where cold winter weather can induce dormancy, and where summers are mild and not too sweltering. If you live in USDA hardiness zones 5-9, you’ll have the best chance of growing apricots trees, as long as you wait until the end of the last winter frost to plant your seedlings.

4. Choose a Location With Full Sun and Plenty of Space

Choosing the right location for your apricot plant is another critical choice for its growing success. Your plant will do best in a sunny location with plenty of room to grow. Apricot trees have notoriously invasive roots, so keep it away from your house or other structures. When your tree is mature, it will likely have large roots poking above ground and equally large roots underground.

5. Provide a Good Quality Soil

Also, consider the drainage of the area you’re planting your tree. Apricot trees respond well to a slightly acidic soil pH (6.0-6.5) and well-drained, loamy soil. This loose and rich soil will help your plant grow strong, healthy roots, and produce more fruit.

6. Establish a Watering Schedule

From there, caring for your tree is pretty straightforward. Water your tree thoroughly once a week, and even more in warmer climates. A good way to tell if your tree needs more or less water is by monitoring the top 4-6 inches of soil. If it’s bone dry, increase how often you deep water. If the soil is still wet after several days, you may want to reduce the frequency of watering.

7. Apply Fertilizer, Compost, or Mulch Annually

Lastly, adding fruit tree fertilizer, 3-4 inches of mulch, or 1-2 inches of compost annually can help the soil retain water and provide a steady supply of nutrients, which can help the apricot tree fight off conditions like yellow and dropping leaves. The best time to apply these soil amendments is in the early spring.

While you can provide the tree with all three of these soil amendments, it’s often not necessary. I personally prefer skipping the fertilizer and using combination of mulch and compost, as there’s plenty of nutrients in them.

Also, don’t forget to prune your apricot trees when they’re a few years old! To see how to prune apricot trees, check out this video by Backyard Fruit.

For more information on growing apricot trees from seed, check out these 5 steps.

Final Thoughts

Storing apricot seeds in an airtight container in the fridge is the best way to keep them from turning bad. You can buy them in bulk or save them from the apricots you eat, and you’ll be able to grow your own juicy, delicious apricots. You also can store them in the freezer if you want to keep them for years, but there is no guarantee that the seed will still be usable after being thawed.

Apricot trees are reasonably easy to grow and can yield great results with care and space and will likely bear fruit after 2-5 years of growth.

One final consideration is a challenge every home fruit grower faces. Apricots may not grow “true to seed”. The fruit may be tougher, more bitter, and less colored than the fruit from which you took the seed from. A good way around this is to graft your apricot trees instead of growing them from seed. Grafting can also help the tree fruit faster and increase the tree’s resistance to pests, disease, and frost.

Growing true to seed is still possible though, especially if you care for your tree well enough. So. don’t let it stop you from attempting to grow delicious apricots.