An ancient fruit!
Upon building our home in California I immediately started planting bushes and trees around the house. I love trees, and especially when they grow as fast as they do in California. I planted an Apricot tree on a little hill in our backyard. Seven years later it bore the first fruit and our son was just three years old. That year it had a few blossoms in the spring and had only a dozen or so apricots in early summer. I was elated, because to an Austrian an Apricot tree is like Fig tree is to an Italian!
Each apricot was warm from the sun and melted in your mouth with its sweet sour juices and smooth delectable flesh. The fragrance intoxicating us as we licked our fingers after every bite. It is truly one of my favorite fruits.
The apricot has a long history; as a matter of fact, it has been growing in China for over 4,000 years. Now we can find it in most temperate climates, with California producing about 90 percent of the American crop. It is a relative of the peach, only a little smaller, and its oval pit falls out easily when the fruit is cut in half.
There are many varieties throughout the world; among them we find the Riland, Tilton, Blenheim, Royal and Chinese Apricot. The color can range from pale yellow to burnt orange.
The Apricot is highly perishable; therefore, it is marketed locally only in June and July. When buying Apricots select plump, reasonably firm fruit with a uniform color. When you find apricots in stores they will not be quite ripe, therefore, so let them ripen on your kitchen counter for a few days and then store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Dried Apricots are unpeeled and pitted. They have a large percentage of the moisture removed and have usually been treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve their color. Apricots are rich in vitamin A and are a great source of iron and calcium.
Like bitter almonds, apricot kernels are poisonous until roasted or cooked.
Being Austrian and a little bit Hungarian my favorite jam is apricot jam. There is no household in these two countries that will not have a jar of apricot jam in their panties at any time of the year.
Apricot coffee cake
This is a quickly made cake using a bought cake mix with a few additions that will make the cake batter a little heavier in order to absorb the fruit juices.
Prepare a baking pan, grease and dust it with flour.
Heat the oven to 350 F
1 box Duncan Hines, Butter Golden cake mix
Use the directions on the box….but,
use a stick of UNSALTED butter
1/2-cup oatmeal – (1 min. quick cooking)
3/4-cup sugar for sweetening the apricots
6 to 8 fresh apricots – seeded and quartered
Wash the apricots and dry them, cut each in quarters and remove the pit. Prepare the batter as directed on the box, using the unsalted butter, then add oatmeal and flour and mix well.
Pour batter into a 10 inch spring form (baking pan). Sprinkle half of the sugar on top of the batter.
Lay apricot quarters – cut side up – on top of the sugar,
then sprinkle the rest of the sugar on top of the apricots.
Sprinkle the cinnamon and cloves on top of the apricots and sugar,
and bake at 350 F until nicely browned and tester comes out clean.
The fruit will sink into the batter.
Cool, and dust with confectioner sugar and serve with coffee, tea
or ice cream.
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