Our Puget Gold apricot tree has been prolific this year! This variety of apricot was developed in Washington and is particularly well-suited for the Pacific Northwest, with our late cool springs. They are self-fertile, meaning you only need one to get fruit. Apricots are a finicky fruit tree that doesn’t grow well in much of the country, so you may have live vicariously through this blog post if you can’t grow them in your area.
Since moving back into our house last year, I have been struggling with removing blight, a bacterial canker, from our affected Apricot tree. It’s a problem in areas that have wet springs, like Portland, but can be treated by applying an organic copper spray during the dormant season. I sprayed our tree a couple times, which did seem to make a dent in our problem, but there were still plenty of branches with pocked fruit.
The tree has been just bent over dripping with fruit. It seems healthy overall and eating the fruit with pocked skin won’t hurt you. So all in all, I’m still a fan of the apricot tree even though it needs a little more TLC than our other fruit trees. I think another year of applying the copper spray will hopefully kick the canker completely.
You don’t see apricots and figs sold fresh in the grocery store that often, although gourmet food stores carry them from time to time. That is because they are only really good about a day or two after being picked from the tree. The fruit is tender and gets over-ripe very quickly. So imagine having fifty (yes fifty!) pounds of apricots in the harvest basket, or rather baskets.
I love dried apricots, but I wanted something I couldn’t easily buy. Instead, I’m focused on cranking out batches and batches of apricot preserves. They are great with sweet and savory dishes. We’ll gobble them up at home, but they are unusual enough to make fabulous gifts as well (I’m already thinking about the holiday season). More recipes will likely follow, but here is a keeper I cooked up the other day.
- 5 lbs fresh apricots, halved and pitted
- 4 c. sugar
- 1/3 c. lemon juice
- 1-2 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
- Don’t waste your time peeling the apricots. The skins are so thin and delicate, they will pretty much dissolve during the cooking process. And the skin adds flavor and fragrance you don’t want to omit.
- Toss apricots, sugar and lemon juice in a large stock pot. Set aside for four hours or overnight in the fridge.
- Bring to a slow boil, being careful to stir often to prevent any sticking. Boil the mixture down by about half until thickened. I test mine by taking a spoonful, cooling it down, then turning the spoon on it’s side. If it’s a gel-like consistency, it’s ready. If it’s too watery, it needs more time cooking.
- Remove the pot of preserves from heat. Then stir in 1 tablespoon of the fresh rosemary. Once combined, do a taste test and decide whether to add another tablespoon. It can easily over power the apricot flavor.
- When you’re ready, carefully pour preserves into your clean, sterilized canning jays (I like 1/2 pints or full pints). Wipe the rims clean and adjust two-piece caps. Boil in hot water bath for fifteen minutes.
Some herbs take on a bitter taste when they are overcooked, which is why I turn the rosemary in at the end of the cooking. You’ll get a nice floral rosemary flavor without it being total overwhelming. It will still a cook a bit in the short time it’s in the hot water bath, but not long enough to get bitter.
We discovered these preserves are perfect with pork dishes. We cooked up thick, 1″ center-cut boneless pork chops – about five minutes on each side over low-medium heat. Once cooked to your liking, just dollop some of these preserves on top at the table. Get ready to fall in love with apricots!