Apr 29, 2019
By Kelly Smith
Apricots always represent the entrance to summer for me. At the farmers' market I often get questions of when they will be arriving or do, we still have them available. They are fruit that reminds me of simpler times when we canned them, dried them and ate them fresh from the tree. I find the farmers' market attracts those who do the same as my family did when I was a young girl. It's always great to see that the art of preserving a short season fruit has not waned from our culture.
The apricot is a member of the rose family, as are plums, peaches, cherries and almonds. All of these fruits are known as drupes, a fruit with think skin, a pulpy middle, and a hard center enclosing a seed. Apricots ripen earlier then other fruits, which is why you find it early in the summer season. The Romans called apricot trees praecocia, which translates to precocious. The word would morph over time to the word apricot.
Apricots are highly perishable and taste best when eaten when soft. This is why you will find the best apricots at the farmers market. A vendor selling apricots can help you find the hard ones that will ripen later or the ones ready to eat now. They can be stored in a bag in the refrigerator but should always be eaten within a couple of days of purchasing.
The first apricots were first cultivated in China as far back as 3000 BC. It is often thought to be a native fruit of Armenia because apricots were cultivated there for may centuries. But it was Greece by Alexander the Great and Lucullus, a Roman General, who exported the trees from Armenia to Europe around 100 BC. The widespread cultivation of the fruit during this time led to the confusion over their exact origin. Persians also cultivated them for many years, with the dried fruits being an especially important commodity for the Persian economy. It was Spanish missionaries who introduced the crop to California. California has over 9,400 acres of apricots planted and is the leading state in the nation's crop production. California's apricots account for 95% of the total U.S. apricot production.
After this long winter I think we are all looking forward to consuming apricots and other wonderful summer fruits at the farmers' market.
Ingredients (you double the recipe for larger parties)
1 tablespoon sugar
4 apricots, halved & pitted
8 teaspoons fresh goat cheese
2 tablespoons of sliced almonds (toasted)
1. Preheat Broiler.
2. Place sugar in small saucer. Dip cut side of apricots in sugar to coat. Transfer to a small broiler proof baking dish.
3. Broil, rotating once, until apricots are caramelized and juicy, 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Remove apricots from oven.
5. Let cool slightly and top with goat cheese and almonds. Serve immediately.
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