I’ve had a soft spot for apricots for as long as I can recall. I first encountered them in dried form, growing up in Denver. Even as a 16 year-old, I can remember thinking, “These must be amazing when they’re fresh.”
And indeed they are. I’ve lived in Southern California now for 13 years, and we await the June-July arrival of fresh apricots in the farmers’ markets like the rain (no, they don’t coincide). It’s not really apricot season for me til the Royal Blenheims arrive (despite Fruit Detective David Karp’s entreaty to consider the Anya and Yulia varieties). The Blenheims have rich, full flavor with great sugar-acid balance; the skin is also gorgeously speckled and sports enough hues to make a rainbow trout jealous.
Apricots are also what got me into jam making more than 12 years ago. I’d buy 30-40 pounds of fruit, cook it up, and have my Christmas presents all ready before the end of July. Unlike the other flavors at Paragon Jams, the apricot is unadorned with any herbs or spices. Well-meaning friends have suggested thyme and ginger as possible additions. I cannot do it; I cannot improve on this saffron-y pearl of the stone fruit family. The apricot stands alone.
The apricot season is always too short. So by mid- to late July when the fruit runs out, it’s gone. Pears, strawberries and citrus I can get most months out of the year in Southern California. Since I can’t replenish the PJ Apricot Jam stock at will, I expect we’ll run out of it relatively quickly. Grab a couple jars and tear the lid off the best part of summer!