Summer is for Stone Fruits: Apricots
By Katharine Boggess | published July 11, 2013 |
Thursday Review Contributing Editor
Apricots can be a fickle fruit. When I bought my house, with an apricot tree in the back, I was told it bore fruit every other year. My next-door neighbor has a tree, and she gets fruit only every four years, she says. Their season is short, too, so unless your store imports them off season, you’ll have to find them in the dried fruit section when summer is over.
Apricots are a stone fruit, part of a genus of summer tree fruits, which also includes peaches, plums, nectarines, and cherries. Picked ripe from the tree, they are firm but separate easily from the stone; they should be sweet and bursting with flavor. At the grocery store, they may be a bit under ripe (harvested early to avoid damage -- this type of fruit is prone to easy bruising) but can be ripened a bit at home before eating.
These little gems are on the small side, not quite enough for a snack if you eat just one, but they deliver in a big way when it comes to nutrition. Weighing in at about 35 grams apiece on the average, each apricot is rich with beta-carotene, fiber, and vitamin C. The full list of nutritional content for apricots provided by the USDA, shows them to be a good source of iron, calcium, zinc, and potassium as well. Not that you need an excuse to include them in your diet.
One of my favorite recipes of all time is made with apricots. Have you ever had Jezebel sauce? If you’re not from the south, perhaps you haven’t. Here’s my recipe--it's sweet and spicy. Adjust the seasonings to make it as hot as you like.
KATHARINE’S JEZEBEL SAUCE:
2 jars homemade apricot preserves (about 3 cups)
1 small jar of apple jelly
½ cup of horseradish
3 tbsp dry mustard powder (make sure it’s fresh)
3 tbsp fresh cracked black pepper
Mix well then chill overnight.
Heat it up and then pour it over your ham or pork roast. That’ll wake up your company.
When I bought my house four years ago, I looked forward to having apricots every once in awhile, if I was lucky. As if to welcome me to the neighborhood, my tree has seen fit to give us a bounty every year. I hope it lasts.