Most years they're here and gone before I get around to noticing that apricots grow in Michigan. Two weeks only, maybe a little more and then no more for another whole year. With their soft, rosy, golden cheeks I just want to take home a bushel or three and be completely surrounded by apricots. If I could I would sleep on a bed of apricot fuzz and wear apricot perfume.
The Pedia of Wiki says there is "an Egyptian proverb that says "Fel meshmesh" (English translation: "in the apricot") which is used to refer to something that will not happen because the apricot disappears from the market in Egypt so shortly after it has appeared." Same in Michigan. Evanescent.
The Wiki-ness also says that apricot trees grow anywhere in the world with the right climate (they need some cold, but not temperature extremes) and they are a bit picky about their growing conditions. "The tree is slightly more cold-hardy than the peach, tolerating winter temperatures as cold as −30 °C or lower if healthy. The limiting factor in apricot culture is spring frosts: They tend to flower very early, around the time of the vernal equinox even in northern locations like the Great Lakes region, meaning spring frost often kills the flowers. Furthermore, the trees are sensitive to temperature changes during the winter season. In their native China, winters can be very cold, but temperatures tend to be more stable than in Europe and especially North America, where large temperature swings can occur in winter."
And finally, "Research shows that of any food, apricots possess the highest levels and widest variety of carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants that help prevent heart disease, reduce "bad cholesterol" levels, and protect against cancer. In traditional Chinese medicine, apricots are considered helpful in regenerating body fluids, detoxifying, and quenching thirst."
Even more than with strawberries, apricot season is brief and they are so delicate that
they are hard to find, even in stores. My favorites fruits so far have come from the excellent
Wolfe Orchard (they sold me their last apricots last weekend - the remaining ones on their
trees were too high up for their ladders they said) and Kapnick's Orchard (which had hail
damage but were wonderful all the same).
When the season comes it's necessary to eat as many apricots as possible as quickly
as possible. I've been doing my part. From the fabulous Perfect Scoop ice cream cookbook
I made David Leibovitz' Apricot Ice Cream (dreamy!) and then bought some more apricots to
make jam. I was thrilled to see the recipe for June Taylor's Apricot Butter in the Times
magazine last weekend and the three little jars I made tonight are now cooling on my countertop.
Watch out June - it made me want to start my own jam business!
What I'm most excited about was making the apricots in lavender syrup that were mentioned,
but without a recipe. I was forced to make up my own recipe and - OMG - are these amazing.
Apricots (Suspended) in Honey Lavender Syrup
1 dozen firm, ripe apricots - halved and pitted
1/2 C. honey
1/2 C. water
5 sprigs lavender flowers
In a small saucepan heat honey and water together. Add lavender let simmer 1-2 minutes. Add apricot halves and simmer just until tender. Probably under 5 minutes. What you don't devour immediately will be insanely good over vanilla ice cream.
Score another point for cooking with flowers.