In the kitchen…Overrun with Apricots?

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Three quick ways with Apricots plus one not so quick…..

It’s been a great season for apricots this year. In fact we ended up forgoing our annual 500k round trip into Central Otago to buy apricots as our trees put on a good harvest this year.   Here are some ideas for good ways to deal with the abundance.

Apricot Idea#1

First and foremost – let the freezer be your friend. Apricots freeze well and my mother now freezes most of her fruit rather than bottling. Apricots are one of those fruits whose flavour improves by going through the process of cooking so freezing is not going to harm them. You can either cut them half and take out the stones or feeze whole. Use clean unblemished fruit.

Apricot Idea #2

Roast apricots. You can do this while cooking dinner or pop into the oven once you are eating dinner. Prepare fruit by halving and removing stone. Place cut side up in a roasting dish and sprinkle over some sugar. Pop into the oven for half and hour or so at a medium temperature.   Roasting intensifies flavours – one reason being that you are not cooking with water so there is little dilution of flavour. Cool then freeze. A good time saving idea is to get out a couple of pie dishes and line with plastic wrap. Carefully place the cooled apricots into the dish, cover over with wrap and freeze. Once frozen you can remove the pie dish and pop the frozen apricots (still in their wrap) into a proper freezer bag. Then you have a disk of delicious roasted apricots ready to pop into pastry or crumble and cook!

Apricot Idea #3

Quick 2 step Apricot Jam. Another one for the busy PCW.  I prepped the fruit before work one morning and made it the following morning. Prepare your fruit as usual by splitting and taking out the stone. You can cut into smaller bits for this and just cut out any soft or rotten bits on your fruit. Sprinkle equal quantity of sugar over plus the juice of a couple of lemons. 1kg fruit – 1 kg sugar. Experiment with quantities if you want but start off this way. Leave for 24 hours. The next day, slowly bring up to cooking temp and simmer until fruit is cooked.   Then boil rapidly for 15-20 mins until it has reached setting stage. Add knob of butter (optional) and then bottle into sterilized jars.

 

Apricot Idea #4  This one is not necessarily quick but it’s a great recipe – good with cold meats (especially lamb) or with a any cheese.

Apricot and Walnut Relish.

Apricots – I used about 2 kilos. Stoned and chopped

3 large onions chopped finely

300mls vinegar.

Put into preserving pan and start to heat.

Add the following;

2 cups brown sugar

1 tsp ground cloves

few grinds of black peppercorns

1 tsp turmeric

3 tsps salt

2 tsps curry powder

½ tsp cayenne pepper

Bring to the boil then turn down and simmer for an hour or so.

Mix 2 tblsps flour with a little vinegar and carefully stir in to thicken.

Add couple of handfuls of chopped walnuts.

Bottle into sterilized jars.

 

 

 

 

 

In the kitchen – with the Professional Countrywoman

The busy Professional Countrywoman has a repertoire of recipes up her sleeve to feed hungry families, extra guests, a muster of musterers or a shed load of shearers. New Zealand is blessed with some fantastic kitchen whizzes such as Annabel Langbein, Nadia Lim and so on, so no way am I going to compete with them. However, I am a good country cook and there are a few recipes that are classics which I will be putting up in this space. My aim this year is to actually make some of those recipes in those beautiful books rather than just looking at them from time to time. I am not saying that I am going to do a Julie/Julia thing and try a new recipe every day but I think I will aim for one a week. (maybe.)

The honour of the first recipe on this page is going to the humble scone. I remember when I made my first batch of scones. My mother – a mother of seven- is still a fabulous cook and was pretty clever at being a resourceful meal maker. (She also worked as a Pharmacist and diversified into being a travel agent so I guess was a good role model for the Professional Countrywoman). So while she was busy making this new fangled thing called a “pizza pie” I was charged with making the scones for Saturday lunch. I had seen her knead bread dough so I started doing the same thing before she caught me and told me that overworking the scone dough would make it tough. Well those scones were pretty good and she pronounced those prophetic words over me – “you are going to be a cook!” and I am.

Scones

Preheat oven to 220c

Sift together 3 cups flour with 5 heaped tsps of baking powder

Put into large bowl and add 2 dessert spoons of sugar (optional)

Grate in about 50 grams of cold butter. (this is easier than rubbing in butter)

Mix with enough milk to make a soft dough. Probably about a cup and a half. You want the dough to be soft but not too sticky. Careful not to over mix or they will be too tough.

Put onto a floured board, shape into a rectangle, cut into squares and put onto oven tray.

Cook in hot oven until cooked – about 10 or 12 minutes.

To make date scones – soak a cup of dried dates in boiling water for a few minutes. Roll out dough, place dates on half then fold over and pat down. Continue as above.

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A batch of date scones ready to go into the oven.