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In Season: Apricots

In Season: Apricots

5 delicious recipes to help you take advantage of apricot season

Making jam is the perfect way to preserve the flavor of apricots at their peak.

The appearance of apricots at farmers' markets and supermarkets is an exciting time of year. They start to crop up around late May or the beginning of June, and signal an unofficial start to summer in the minds of many cooks. The season for apricots is fairly short, reaching its peak in July, so, it's best to take full advantage of these lovely stone fruit quickly because before you know it, they'll be gone and you'll have to wait another year to indulge in them again.

Click here to see the In Season: Apricots Slideshow

When ripe, apricots have an aroma and flavor reminiscent of cinnamon and vanilla that sets them apart from other stone fruit, and flesh that comes easily away from the pit. Apricots come in dozens of varieties, but esoteric varieties are most easily found in farmers' markets.

While they are delicious to eat on their own, they're also fantastic baked into tarts, blended into salad dressing, and when the season nears the end, turned in to jam, of course. For some great recipe ideas, check out the slideshow.

Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.


How to use baked apricots

Celebrate the glorious apricot season with this quick and easy method to prepare a glut of these sweet summer fruits. With just 30 minutes and a little bit of love, these juicy little fruits will turn soft, syrupy and unctuous, and bring a ray of sunshine to your plate.

You can enjoy them as they are with yoghurt or ice cream, turn them into a delicious breakfast or dessert, or even a summer cocktail!

Simple baked apricots

SERVES: 6
TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes

1kg ripe apricots
1 vanilla pod
2 oranges
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar

  1. Preheat the oven 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
  2. Halve and destone the apricots, then lay them in a snug-fitting roasting tray.
  3. Halve the vanilla pod, scrape the seeds into the tray and throw in the pod.
  4. Use a speed peeler to zest in 1 orange, then squeeze in the juice from both oranges.
  5. Sprinkle over the sugar, add a splash of water and toss everything together.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until soft and syrupy. Leave to cool. They will keep covered in the fridge for a couple of days.

Beautiful breakfast
Place your favourite granola in a bowl, top with Greek-style yoghurt and place a couple of apricots on top. Drizzle with a little of the cooking syrup and top with toasted coconut flakes, if you like.

Brunch time
Whip some ricotta and spread over a slice of toast. Place a few apricots on top, drizzle with a little of the cooking syrup and scatter with some fresh thyme leaves.

Cocktail hour
Mash an apricot or two with a fork, then push through a fine sieve until you have a smooth purée. Spoon into a cocktail glass and top up with Prosecco or cava for a beautiful bellini.


The seasonal cook: Apricot

Apricots are from the Rosaceae family and grow on a deciduous tree that needs a morning chill followed by long hot days to produce fruit at its sweetest best. Growing up in Adelaide, which has the perfect climate for growing apricots, it felt like every second person had a tree in their backyard.

Almonds are from the same family and are most similar to the fruit’s slightly bitter stone. So alike, in fact, apricot stones are used to flavour the marzipan-like Italian liquor Amaretto.

Dried apricots are good for a snack, go well with a bitter dark chocolate but are more often used in savoury preparations.

Fresh apricots love dairy, are delicious with sweet spices and vanilla, make a delightful jam and an excellent paste, like quinces, which is an excellent match for cheese.

Sweet apricots have an illustrious history used in savoury and meat dishes, particularly in Middle Eastern cuisine, often highly spiced with saffron, ginger and pistachio. This all fell apart in Australia, though, with the sudden and strange popularity of apricot chicken that is ‘traditionally’ made with French onion soup mix found in a packet.

Make O Tama's apricot recipes

This drink is a version of a Saturday morning drink treat that I used to have at the Central Markets in Adelaide as a teenager. It’s not so much a smoothie as more a refreshing layered drink that needs a spoon and a straw. The crushed ice keeps it cool and refreshing and the nuts give it extra texture.

Apricot nectar and pistachio smoothie
Source: Benito Martin

Simple and buttery, theses little cakes are perfect for a summer’s afternoon tea party. They are easy to construct and best served straight from the oven, while still crumbly and warm.

Apricot and vanilla brown butter shortcakes
Source: Benito Martin

This dessert is about contrasts, sweet soft and yielding fruit matched with a slightly firm, almost savoury almond jelly. The soya milk has an almost earthy flavour that anchors this dish.

Poached apricots with set almond milk
Source: Benito Martin

A simple roasting method that will leave you with a tray of delicious spiced apricots. They can be eaten warm as a dessert with ice-cream or eaten with yoghurt for breakfast. They are also just as happy to be used alongside some lamb or pork.

Roasted apricots with honey, cardamom and saffron
Source: Benito Martin

Photography by Benito Martin. Food styling by O Tama Carey. Prop styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.

Always on the hunt for the next vegetable to pickle, follow O Tama Carey on Instagram.


Farmers market report: Apricots are in season

What’s in season: Apricots and other stone fruits have been popping up at stands for a few weeks now, but flavorful fruit are really starting to come into season. Apricots and apricot hybrids including the classic Blenheim apricots, Katy and Poppy apricots, Early Dapple and other pluots and apriums are making a colorful show with a season that typically lasts well through July. Green apricots -- unripe apricots similar in appearance to almonds -- are bitter- or sour-flavored fruit often used for pickling.

What to cook: Sometimes the best apricots -- a perfectly ripe Blenheim -- are best eaten out of hand. Slice the fruit to add sweet notes to a quick salad, or halve and grill apricots to caramelize the sugars before serving alongside a simple scoop of ice cream. If adding to a tart, galette or crumble, the skins are easily removed before using: Score the base of each fruit with an X, then place in boiling water just until the skin begins to curl. Remove the fruit to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and peel the skin away as soon as the fruit is cool enough to handle.
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What’s on the horizon: Berries -- blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and even boysenberries -- are really beginning to make a show.


Fresh Apricot Bars

Lately it seems our cooking at home has been driven by an over abundance of ingredients. Creativity from Copiousness, if you will. Not that we are complaining. Quite the opposite really, we couldn&rsquot be happier. The garden is going blitzkrieg with its tomato production but we&rsquore hoping the rats don&rsquot get to them before we do. Driving up to Palm Springs a couple weeks ago we spotted the Dowling Fruit Orchard stand on the fringes of one of their orchards. We both looked at each other, not even needing to say that on the way home we must stop there.

Lucky, on our way back we had just made it, 5 minutes before close! Flats of peaches for less than $10. Flats that tasted like home garden picked. Mounds of apricots. Watermelons. Oh the fruits in all their glory! We snatched up as much as we figured we would be able to eat in a few brief minutes, not wanting to delay the hard working staff in getting them home.

Amazing Fresh Apricots

We ate, sucking juices as we bit, nearly half the flat of peaches on the way home. Probably would have ate it all if it weren&rsquot for the apricots in all their deliciousness.

Once back home, the boxes of recently purchased tastiness now had to compete with the garden&rsquos bounty. With the apricots life short lived, we made these fresh apricot bars to enjoy them a little longer. Hope you love them as much as we did. The apricots were briefly cooked to help break them down, then pureed and spread over, and baked with a crisp type of crust with the oats, butter, and brown sugar. It is a great way to use up an abundance of apricots. If you happen to get some apricots which are bit of a let down in straight snacking ability, these apricot bars will give them a chance to regain glory.

2019 Update: Since that trip we planted a Blenheim Royal apricot tree. We&rsquore now indulging in home grown apricots that are sweet like candy. And using all the extras for our apricot bars!


Sweet and tart at the same time. A luscious summer fruit.

Sources: Field Guide to Produce by Aliza Green California Apricot Council

Apricots. Just the name can make your mouth water and your senses become active. Some of the most memorable women's perfumes are tinged with its scent. The pale orange color of the fruit's skin and darker inner pulp is so distinctive that a crowd of decorators would easily agree which paint chip deserved the name. The fruit is velvety and appealing to hold and touch. And oh, that fragrance.

The fruit itself is a color richer than its outer skin. And whether eaten raw or cooked, the flavor manages to uniquely combine peach-like-sweet with tang. High in beta carotene and lycopene, apricots are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber, and an average-sized apricot has only about 17 calories.

Most of the year it's best to eat dried or canned apricots. Both California and Turkish dried apricots are very flavorful and satisfying and can be easily used in a range of recipes including savory stuffings, chutneys, cookies, fruit tarts, and with duck or pork. But the great apricot experience comes from when they are fresh and in season, from late spring through the summer.

Most of the fresh apricots we buy in New York are grown in California. Some are also imported from what's called the apricot belt, from Turkey to Turkistan, as well as from Australia and New Zealand.

How to Buy Apricots

Here's the thing about buying fresh apricots: all too often they just don&rsquot taste half as good as they look. It's easy to fall in love with a stack of golden orange fruit only to get one home and discover it has no flavor.

To increase your odds of getting a great apricot experience, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Only buy apricots during the season when they've been grown in the U.S. This means late spring through the summer. While apricots can be found in the winter, these will have been grown in South America, Australia or New Zealand and shipped a long distance. To travel like that, apricots have to be picked when under-ripe, so right away this means the odds are against it having any flavor. So only buy fresh during the hot months or else stick with the dried or canned.
  • Don't worry about blemishes or marks unless it looks like the blemish has penetrated the skin.
  • A sign of ripeness is that the fruit is soft. But if it's too soft, it may be over-ripe. Think about when you plan to eat or cook with the fruit and have that determine how firm or soft your apricots should be.
  • Apricots are not juicy fruits so don't equate softness for juiciness.
  • Choose each apricot carefully, looking for plumpness, and lots of golden orange-red color. Avoid apricots that are green or pale yellow or that are bruised or shriveled.
  • Finally, smell them. An apricot that has flavor also has a sweet and ready fragrance.

Storing and Cooking

Refrigerate stored apricots in a plastic or paper bag for up to 2 days. Then let the fruit soften at room temperature for a day or two before eating or cooking with them.

If you need to accelerate the ripening process, put the apricots in a brown paper bag and leave at room temperature for a day or two. Wash apricots before serving or cooking with them.

Apricots are wonderful in a wide range of recipes. For example:

  • In fruit tarts where a custard or pastry cream base is topped with fresh apricots.
  • Stuff a pork loin or roast chicken with wedges of fresh fruit. Sage is a nice addition to apricots and meat or poultry.
  • Dice pieces of fresh apricot and toss with rice pilaf, adding some toasted sliced almonds. Serve with lamb or fish.
  • Apricot fruit cobbler or crumble.
  • Apricot pie -- substitute apricots for peaches in your favorite peach pie recipe (you may need a little more sugar depending upon how sweet your apricots are).
  • Apricot upside-down cake.
  • Sauté slices and add to a salad along with greens, bits of prosciutto and cheese.
  • Poach with vanilla sugar syrup and serve with vanilla ice cream or freshly made zabaglione.
  • Oven-roasted with a sprinkling of almonds or crushed Amaretti cookies (maybe served with a glass of Amaretto?).

While I love apricots in savory dishes, if I find perfect fresh ones I can't resist making a fruit tart. I've included a link to a Gourmet magazine recipe for "Apricot Galette," an easy-to-make fruit tart that uses store-bought frozen puff pastry as its base. Even if you're not often a baker, this is the kind of dessert recipe that you should attempt because once you master it for apricots, you can use the same method with plums or apples or other non-juicy fruit.


Create Your Own Seasonal Produce Calendar

If you prefer, you can create your own calendar using the same concept.

This calendar has a heading for each month that lists typical fruits and vegetables that are in season during that month, with a graphic showing one of the items. You could create your own using photos and graphics.

Here is the list for each month. You may want to customize it for your area by visiting the websites of the local farmers' markets to see what they list as being in season each month.

January: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, lemons, oranges, parsnips, rutabagas, tangelos, tangerines, turnips.

February: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, lemons, oranges, parsnips, rutabagas, tangelos, turnips.

March: artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, parsnips, pineapples, radishes, rutabagas, turnips.

April: artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, pineapples, radishes, rhubarb, spring peas.

May: apricots, artichokes, asparagus, cherries, lettuce, mangoes, okra, pineapples, radishes, rhubarb, spring peas, strawberries, Swiss chard, zucchini.

June: apricots, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, corn, kiwi, lettuce, mangoes, peaches, strawberries, Swiss chard, watermelon, zucchini.

July: apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, green beans, kiwi, kohlrabi, lettuce, mangoes, okra, peaches, peppers, plums, raspberries, strawberries, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini.

August: acorn squash, apples, apricots, blueberries, butternut squash, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, figs, green beans, kiwi, kohlrabi, lettuce, mangoes, okra, peaches, peppers, plums, raspberries, strawberries, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini.

September: acorn squash, apples, beets, butternut squash, cantaloupe, cauliflower, eggplant, figs, grapes, green beans, lettuce, mangoes, mushrooms, okra, peppers, persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins, spinach, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, tomatoes.

October: acorn squash, apples, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage, cauliflower, cranberries, grapes, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, parsnips, persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins, rutabagas, spinach, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, turnips, winter squash.

November: beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cranberries, leeks, mushrooms, oranges, parsnips, pears, persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins, rutabagas, spinach, sweet potatoes, tangerines, turnips, winter squash.

December: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, mushrooms, oranges, papayas, parsnips, pears, pomegranates, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, tangelos, turnips.


Silk-skinned and sunrise-colored, splitting deliciously along a ripe seam to reveal a pit neatly nestled in velvet, apricots are an ephemeral highpoint of summer's sequential stone fruit season. Their appearance at market is close to fleeting if you are enjoying regionally-grown fruit. Pay attention, then pounce as soon as they arrive.

At their best, apricots are tender, sweetly juicy, and perfumed, with a gentle but tongue-edging sense of acid. If you do discover apricot perfection (your nose and tongue will tell you), you should simply sit down quietly somewhere and eat them one by one, with no embellishments. Savor every drop of juice. It is a precious thing, this moment of apricot ripeness, and you will remember it.

When harvested and eaten too early, apricots are more crisp and sour, but they can be transformed by cooking: So, if your apricots are tart, plan to use them in desserts or to make jam. Even disappointingly insipid fruit, bred less for flavor and more for appearance and for enduring refrigerated journeys across the continent (or from another hemisphere), can be redeemed. Who has not been seduced by their vivid, supermarket curves as an interminable winter stretches on? It is always fun to cheat and buy apricots from climates whose summers coincide with our coldest months (and darkest thoughts).

Whether you are fortunate enough to celebrate an apricot glut, want to honor a coveted ripe handful, or have succumbed to out-of-season treasure at the local supermarket, here we have curated our best fresh apricot recipes to offer you snacks, drinks, bakes, broils, and more.


Ingredients

    • 1 small rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded (about 4 cups)
    • 1 bunch of celery, stalks separated, thinly sliced on a diagonal, leaves reserved
    • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
    • 1 tsp. honey
    • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more
    • 3 large or 4 small apricots, sliced
    • 4 oz. mild blue cheese, sliced into shards
    • 1 cup mint leaves

Tarte aux abricots recipe

When fresh apricots are in season, this is a lovely way to serve them, but it is also very good with tinned apricots. Make sure the pastry is baked to a crisp golden brown crust and leave it to cool completely before filling with the crème pâtissière and fruit.

Ingredients

  • 1 quantity sweet pastry
  • 1 cup flour for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten with a splash of milk (eggwash), for glazing
  • 1 quantity sweet pastry
  • 1 cup flour for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten with a splash of milk (eggwash), for glazing
  • 1 quantity sweet pastry
  • 1 cup flour for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten with a splash of milk (eggwash), for glazing
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 4 medium egg yolks
  • 40 g cornflour
  • 500 ml full-fat milk
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 40 g butter
  • 2 tbsp Kirsch
  • 3.5 oz caster sugar
  • 4 medium egg yolks
  • 1.4 oz cornflour
  • 17.6 fl oz full-fat milk
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 1.4 oz butter
  • 2 tbsp Kirsch
  • 3.5 oz caster sugar
  • 4 medium egg yolks
  • 1.4 oz cornflour
  • 2.1 cups full-fat milk
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 1.4 oz butter
  • 2 tbsp Kirsch
  • 600 g ripe apricots, halved and stoned, or tinned apricots, well drained
  • 21.2 oz ripe apricots, halved and stoned, or tinned apricots, well drained
  • 21.2 oz ripe apricots, halved and stoned, or tinned apricots, well drained
  • 3 tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 tbsp Kirsch
  • 1 cup icing sugar for dusting (optional)
  • 3 tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 tbsp Kirsch
  • 1 cup icing sugar for dusting (optional)
  • 3 tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 tbsp Kirsch
  • 1 cup icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Details

  • Cuisine: French
  • Recipe Type: Dessert
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Preparation Time: 60 mins
  • Cooking Time: 20 mins
  • Serves: 8

Step-by-step

  1. First, make the crème pâtissière. Whisk the sugar, egg yolks and cornflour together in a bowl until smoothly combined and set aside. Pour the milk into a large, heavy-based pan. Split the vanilla pods open, scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife and add these to the milk with the empty pods. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.
  2. Pour about a quarter of the hot milk onto the egg mixture, whisking as you do so, then return this mixture to the rest of the milk in the pan. Put back over a gentle heat and cook, stirring continuously, until the crème pâtissière becomes thick. Immediately pass through a sieve into a bowl and stir in the butter. Lay a disc of baking parchment directly on the surface to prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool and then chill before using.
  3. Roll out your sweet pastry on a lightly floured surface to a large round, about 3mm thick. Don’t worry if it crumbles or breaks on the first roll – just press it together and re-roll. Use the pastry to line a 25cm loose-based tart tin, leaving the excess pastry hanging over the edge. Chill for 15–30 minutes.
  4. Heat your oven to 180°C. Prick the pastry base all over with a fork. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and baking beans , and bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and beans, brush the pastry case with eggwash and return to the oven for a further 8–10 minutes until the pastry case is cooked and golden brown at the edges. Trim off the rough edges and set the pastry case aside. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to cool.
  5. Beat the 2 tbsp Kirsch into the cooled crème pâtissière and spread it in the cooled pastry case. Arrange the apricots, cut side down, on top.
  6. Warm the apricot jam and 1 tbsp Kirsch in a saucepan until runny, then pass through a sieve. Using a pastry brush, brush this mixture over the apricots to glaze. If you like, you can dust the tart with icing sugar and put it under a hot grill briefly to caramelise the apricots. Serve the tart with vanilla ice cream if you wish.

Recipe taken from How To Bake, published by Bloomsbury, £20. Photos by Peter Cassidy.

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