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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Tim Dowling

With pastry, with feta and tomato, with bourbon and lime … 17 delicious ways to make the most of apricots


The word apricot shares the same root as the word precocious – the fruit is so named because it ripens early, before plums, peaches and apples. In warmer climates than the UK, apricots can be ready to pick as early as May, but the British season begins now, and it’s set to be a bumper year, with a predicted harvest of 250 tonnes.

Although the fruit has only been grown commercially in this country since 2005 – mostly in Kent – yields are already six times what they were a decade ago. What are we going to do with all these extra apricots? Here are 17 delicious ideas to help you absorb your quota.

You could simply eat them, but apricots remain – whisper it – one of summer’s most persistently disappointing fruits. While a good one is undoubtedly great, not-so-good ones are common. They are often sold when underripe, and even the ripe ones can be a bit woolly.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s grilled apricots and blackberries with ginger nut biscuits and cream.
A little applied heat works wonders … Yotam Ottolenghi’s grilled apricots and blackberries with ginger nut biscuits and cream. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian

But cooking can rescue even the most underwhelming apricot – a little applied heat works wonders. Apricots don’t generally need peeling; just halve them, stone them, sprinkle them with a bit of sugar and shove them under the grill. Yotam Ottolenghi puts them on his barbecue and serves them with a vanilla yoghurt cream and crushed ginger nut biscuits. Anna Jones adds cardamom to concoct a quick dessert designed for apricots “before or after their best”.

Nigel Slater sautés the fruit in honey and butter for his sticky apricot and ginger cake, or he bakes them – halved, cut side down – confined in a crumble pastry case.

For Slater’s tarte tatin, made with apricots instead of apples, they go in cut side down, with a whole almond placed in every hollow. Apricot upside down cake is a similar idea, but uses a sponge instead of pastry for the top – eventually bottom – layer.

Benjamina Ebuehi’s apricot limoncello mascarpone pudding.
Prepare in advance … Benjamina Ebuehi’s apricot limoncello mascarpone pudding. Photograph: Rita Platts/The Guardian

Unfortunately, the British apricot season coincides with a period when it’s often too hot to even think about using the oven. Given the apricot’s need for a bit of cooking, this seems all but inescapable. Benjamina Ebuehi’s apricot limoncello mascarpone pudding, for example, requires you to make both meringues and a sponge, and to roast the apricots in a hot oven. Luckily, this can be done in advance, in the cool of the evening, before assembling the final product the next day.

Likewise, Tamal Ray’s apricot croquembouche lets you get the hard work out of the way the day before, and the simple apricot puree it calls for – with apricots, honey and sugar – will have other uses in the kitchen. Alternatively, a white chocolate and apricot cheesecake doesn’t involve too much heat – just a light grilling of the apricots before you arrange them on top.

Tamal Ray’s apricot croquembouche.
Tamal Ray’s apricot croquembouche. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura/The Guardian

If you can’t stand the heat of the kitchen, apricots can feature in summer salads. Generally speaking, apricot salads benefit from the addition of something salty and some kind of cheese. This, from the Australian website, is a good example: the apricot, prosciutto and goat’s cheese salad is so simple.

Other delicious combinations include apricot, feta and tomato, or apricot, rocket and halloumi. Thomasina Miers’ Californian apricot salad includes burrata, kale, lettuce, tomatoes and pumpkin seeds. Slater’s contribution to the genre is a roast duck and apricot salad, using legs instead of breasts.

If you’re put off about the use of fruit in savoury meat dishes, apricots are a good way in, with a sweetness that is more subtle than some of the other options. Slater’s roast pork with apricots and aubergines is a case in point. We are, incidentally, only scratching the surface here when it comes to Slater’s store of apricot recipes. He’s got at least enough for a book.

Thomasina Miers’ Californian apricot salad.
Delicious … Thomasina Miers’ Californian apricot salad. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura/The Guardian

Sometimes the only way to deal with an excess of soft fruit is to preserve them for later use. You can dry your own apricots in a dehydrator or a low oven. Personally I would never want to be known as the sort of person who dries his own apricots.

Preserves are perhaps a better use of your time and Claire Ptak has a recipe for a straightforward apricot compote. Apricot jam recipes often make use of the stone, or rather the kernel within it, for added flavour. There are concerns, however, about them containing a trace of a compound which the body converts into cyanide, so this recipe leaves them out.

Finally, cocktails. There aren’t that many apricot drinks that call for fresh fruit – most use apricot brandy – but here are two. The first is an apricot and honey bourbon sour, which uses a homemade apricot syrup, bourbon, bitters, lemon juice and mint. The second is an apricot bourbon fizz, using fresh muddled apricots and lime juice. Make yourself a pitcher of this, and put that dehydrator back in the shed.

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