Baking with Apricots: A Quick Beginner's Guide

Part I - Apricot Overview

Apricots (Prunus armeniaca) are circular stone fruits with an orangish, golden-yellow color. The fruits grow on small trees belonging to the peach family. Apricot trees thrive in warm temperate zones and can reach a height of 20 to 25 feet over their lifetime.

Ancient civilizations in the Middle East, India, and China considered apricots not only a staple in their diet but a “blessed seed from the sun” capable of bestowing prophetic powers to all those who sat under its tree. Chinese philosophers, Lao Tse and Confucius developed their beliefs under such a tree and attributed their philosophical gifts to the fruit. Greeks and Romans worshiped the apricot for its beauty and delectable juice, preparing the fresh, golden fruit for holiday celebrations and ceremonial dishes.

Part II - Fresh Apricot Tips

Purchasing

Choose apricots that are plump, fairly firm and golden to yellowish-orange in color.

Preparation

Wash under cool water for 1 to 2 minutes, and then strip the skin with a paring knife. If fruit is not ripe, dip it into boiling water for 30 to 40 seconds, and then into cold water before peeling. Add lemon juice to accent flavor.

Storage

Place ripe apricots in plastic bags in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Allow green apricots to ripen at room temperature before storing in the refrigerator. Freeze apricots by cutting ripe, washed, and peeled fruit into halves, removing the pit, and packing in heavy syrup of 5 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 teaspoon citric acid, and 5 cups water. Fill container 1/3 with syrup, add fruit about 1 inch from the top, and fill rest with remaining syrup. Cover with lid and place in plastic bag made for the freezer. Fruit should stay fresh for 2 to 3 months.

This is the end of Parts 1 and 2.

Visit us next week for Parts III, IV, and V.

Ann Schwartz's work has been featured in children's magazines and 49 cookbooks. The retired English, public speaking, and theater teacher received the Library Advocate of the Year Award.

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