Arlene's Cuisine

Apricots, a member of the rose family and a relative of the peach, are an early season fruit crop in Colorado.

They are an excellent source of vitamins A and C and a good source of potassium and fiber. When choosing apricots, pick those that are plump, firm and uniformly colored. You can get them at farmers markets, grocery stores and sometimes even in your own backyard if you happen to have a tree.

Locally apricots have awhile to go before they’re ripe, but it looks like this year we’re going to have some local fruit, which hasn’t happened for roughly nine years. Too often the trees blossom early and then almost inevitably we get a freeze and no apricots that year.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture is featuring apricots for the month of July. This first recipe, for Apricot Crisp, is provided by chef Jason K. Morse of 5280 Culinary LLC.

 

Apricot Crisp

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cups fresh apricots, pits removed, and sliced thin
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla paste (substitute a tablespoon of vanilla extract if you don’t have paste)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium stainless steel bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Stir until moistened and crumbly in texture. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and press about half of the mixture into the bottom. Place sliced apricots on top of the pressed oat mixture.

In a stock pot, combine the sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla and cook for about 12 minutes, until thickened, stirring well. Pour this mixture over the apricots and top with the remaining oat mixture. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden and the mixture has started to bubble. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Visit coloradoproud.org for a complete list of recipes.

I found the following recipe in Taste of Home magazine two years ago, and it’s the best jam I’ve ever made. The habanero peppers give it a delightful “bite” and it’s especially good poured over a block of cream cheese and served with crackers for dipping. You can substitute apricots with peaches, which are equally delicious. When cutting and seeding the habaneros, be sure to use rubber or plastic gloves to protect your hands and avoid touching your face.

 

Apricot Habanero Jam

  • 3½ pounds fresh apricots
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 to 4 habanero peppers, seeded
  • 1 package (1¾ ounces) powdered fruit pectin
  • 7 cups sugar

Pit and chop apricots and place in a Dutch oven or soup kettle. Stir in lemon juice. Place habaneros in a blender with a small amount of the apricot mixture and process until smooth. Return to the pan. Stir in pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil. Quickly stir in sugar.

Return to a full rolling boil and stir for 1 minute. (These instructions are for sea level. At Salida’s elevation you will probably have to cook quite a bit longer, until the mixture forms a soft ball when you drop a little into a cup of cold water.)

Pour the hot mixture into hot sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch head space. Keep lids and rings in hot water. Place lids on the jars and screw on the ring tightly.

For sea level, process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath, making sure the jars are covered with the boiling water. For Salida’s elevation, process for 30 minutes before removing to let stand at room temperature for two weeks to set up. Makes about 11 half pints.

 

Apricot Syrup

Good on waffles or pancakes and even in iced tea.

  • 7 cups pureed apricots
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 package liquid pectin (like Certo)
  • Enough sterile glass jars to hold 5 pints

Place apricots, lemon juice and sugar in a pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until it reaches a syrup stage. At sea level this would be about a minute. At Salida’s elevation it will take longer, so test by placing a little of the mixture in a cup of cold water. If it comes together in a soft ball it’s ready.

Add the fruit pectin and return to a boil, stirring for 3 to 5 minutes more before pouring into hot, sterilized jars and sealing with sterilized lids and rings. Place in a hot water bath like you would do for jam or jelly and process for 20 minutes.

 

Banana Apricot Dessert

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (1-pound, 14-ounce) can apricot halves (or use about 2 pounds fresh apricots, halved)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  • 6 firm ripe bananas
  • Whipped cream for topping

Melt butter and add apricots to the skillet. Sprinkle with cinnamon. (If apricots are fresh, you may want to add a little sugar, to taste.) Mix the cornstarch with water and add the liquid to the skillet, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and cook for about 4 minutes. Peel bananas and cut in crosswise halves. Place in pan with the apricots. Heat together long enough to warm the fruit. Serve hot with whipped cream. Serves six.

 

Apricot Orange

Cheesecake

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 8 canned or fresh whole, peeled apricots, drained (if fresh, you might want to sprinkle them with a little sugar to taste)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup apricot juice
  • ½ cup orange juice

Combine first four ingredients and press into a buttered 9-inch pie pan. Bake at 250 degrees for 10 minutes (or purchase a ready-made 9-inch graham cracker crust).

Beat cream cheese until fluffy, add condensed milk and beat until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and flavoring and pour into the cooled crust. Chill for 3 hours. Arrange apricots on top the filling. Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and juices and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Cool and pour over apricots. Let chill for 2 hours before serving.