Kyle Wotton, from West Country Fruit Sales, gives us the lowdown on apricots and how to utilise their unique sweetness.
To many, apricots are one of the first signs of summer and the appearance of their soft, velvety skin signifies warmer days for us all. Their season runs from May to September and they grow in hot climates, which means you’re more likely to see them throughout the summer months. When they are at their freshest and most ripe, apricots are both tart and sweet, unlike their sister fruit, the peach, which is generally just a sweet fruit. Apricots are also less juicy than peaches, which means they’re not as messy or sticky to eat. Personally, I prefer apricots after they’ve been cooked, because the process brings out such an incredible sweetness. They can be used in tarts, crumbles, and cakes, but their versatility certainly doesn’t begin and end with baking.
PICK GOOD QUALITY APRICOTS
Although the colour of an apricot isn’t the best guide to its flavour, I would still recommend avoiding those that are very pale. Avoid those with wrinkly or blemished skins. Instead, pick up apricots that are firm and bright in colour, as this is a good indication of the freshest and best-tasting fruits.
If the fruit is already ripe, it’s best to store it in the fridge where they will keep for 4 to 5 days. If they’re under-ripe, storing them at room temperature for a day or two will ensure that they’re ready to be eaten.
Cut the apricot in half by following its dimple around the stone. Once cut, you can gently pull the two halves apart and flip the stone out. As an extra precaution, you can also brush the sides with lemon juice to prevent any discolouration.
Baking with apricots produces a beautifully sweet flavour, but you can also coat them in olive oil and grill them for a great addition to any salad. Just cook them with the cut side down for about 1 minute, and then flip and continue to cook for a further 30 seconds.
KYLE’S TOP TIP
Try brushing chicken with a mix of apricot jam, olive oil, and cayenne pepper before baking for an out-of-this-world sweet, fruity taste.