Not widely known in Europe until the 15th century, apricots are originally from China but arrived in Europe via Armenia, which is why the scientific name is Prunus armenaica.
These golden orange fruits with there velvety skin and fragrant, juicy flesh, are delicious enjoyed as a fresh fruit, used in salads or sweet and savoury dishes. They go particularly well with lamb and poultry, for stuffings and sauces. They say the stronger the apricot colour, the sweeter the fruit.
To prepare apricots, wash them, and half them by running a knife around the kernel following the line of the fruit's natural dimple, then gently twist apart and remove and discard the stone. If apricots are not to be used immediately then the cut surfaces can be brushed with lemon juice to prevent browning. To skin apricots, cover with boiling water for 30 seconds, then plunge into cold water.
Apricot jam is used as a glaze on many pastries, this adds both shine and colour to the pastries. Apricot Glaze also provides a tasty and useful base layer for cakes that need to be prepared for icing.
Try this, Slice apricots in half, brush them with honey and grill them until browned. Or to bake them, again slice them in half, and drizzle them with honey or sprinkle with sugar and spices such as cinnamon.
For a lovely treat, Poach apricots for 10 minutes in apple juice with a vanilla pod, and sweeten with honey or sugar to taste.
Makes about 1.25 Litres
20 (1kg) Apricots
60ml fresh lemon juice
Half the apricots and remove the stones. Combine the apricots, water and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for about 15 minutes or until the apricots are tender. Add the sugar, stir over heat, without boiling, until the sugar dissolves.
Boil, uncovered, stirring occasinally for around 30 minutes or until the jam jells when tested. Stand for 5 minutes. Pour the hot jam into warmed sterilsed jars, seal whilst hot.
Enjoy this jam with croissants for a breakfast treat.
APRICOT & BLUEBERRY FLAPJACK
A crumble-style dessert, with a lovely chewy oaty topping.
150g unsalted butter
150g golden syrup
180g rolled oats
8 ripe apricots
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp light muscovado sugar
Preheat the oven 180C Fan/ 200C/ Gas 6
Melt the butter gently in a small pan with the syrup and salt, then fold in the oats.
Quarter the apricots, removing the stones, and arrange with the blueberries in the base of a 2 litre oval gratin dish or any other shallow ovenproof dish.
Sprinkle with the sugar, then scatter over the flapjack mixture. They should still be some fruit showing through. Pop in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the top is golden and crusty. Serve hot, or its just as delicious eaten cold.