Apricots are cultivated in the warmer temperate regions of the world. The top producers are Turkey, Iran, and Italy, but Australia, chili, South Africa, and California also have important export crops. Typically, the small, dimpled fruit has golden-orange, velvety skin flushed with deep pink; honey-sweet, slightly tangy juice; and a delicious fragrance when ripe. The kernel of the stone is used to flavor jams, cookies, and Amaretto liqueur.
Once harvested, between May and September, apricots will not ripen any further. However, when fully ripe they are also fragile and bruise easily, which is why many apricots are picked underripe. As a result, what you buy may be woolly, dry, or just plain disappointing. Select plump, smooth, slightly soft apricots with a rich color. Reject pale, dull, or greenish fruit.
Apricots can be kept at room temperature for a few days (if hard they might soften but they won’t ripen further) or store in an open paper bag at the bottom of the refrigerator. Freeze, peeled and stoned, in syrup.
Use the natural line in the fruit to cut in half and twist apart.
Eat as a snack. Add to fruit salads or a fruit plate.
Halve and use in tarts and pastries. Poach in syrup or wine. Halve, stuff, and bake for desserts. Purée for sweet and savory sauces. Add to rice and couscous dishes, stews, roasts, and stuffings.
Make jam and conserves. Bottle in syrup or liqueur. Dry.
Lamb, pork, poultry, ham, yogurt, cream, custard, oranges, almonds, rice, ginger, vanilla, sweet white wine.
Apricot and almond tart; apricot jam and jelly; apricot ice cream; spiced apricots; apricot leather.
A popular, widely grown variety, Patterson scores highly in terms of durability and shelf life. It is an excellent choice for baking and cooking.
A delicate, exquisite heritage variety, Royal Blenheim has a musky perfume and soft, downy skin. It is a rare find, so if you are lucky savor it fresh.
This large, meaty apricot has an attractive orange color with a red blush. You can eat these fresh or make into delicious jam.
When apricots are not in season, make this popular European dessert with fresh peaches or nectarines. Serve warm with crème fraîche or whipped cream.
- 9oz (250g) cold pie dough or puff pastry
- 2 tbsp apricot jam
- 1lb (450g) fresh apricots, halved and stoned
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 3 tbsp Amaretto liqueur
- 3 tbsp demerara (raw) sugar
- 2 tbsp cold butter
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
Roll out the pastry into a rectangle about 12 × 9in (30 × 23cm). Trim the edges with a sharp knife. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Spread the jam over the pastry to within 3/4in (2cm) of the edges.
Gently press the apricot halves, cut side up, on the pastry in rows, leaving a 1/2in (1cm) margin all around the outside.
Scatter the almonds over the apricots. Sprinkle with the Amaretto and then the sugar. Place a dot of butter in each apricot cavity.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400°F (200°C). Bake for another 20 minutes, or until the pastry and apricots are glazed and golden brown.
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