One of the fairly well kept secrets of NY agriculture is that, next to California, New York is the largest producer of apricots in the United States. The proportions are "out of proportion," probably with something like 98 and 2, but that 2 makes a big difference to folks like me.
Apricots do not ship well. So if you get apricots in the market, unless you deal with a specialty supplier or have a contact, what you will get are underripe specimens, that will never truly reward you. And the apricot crop is fleeting. In fact, it is just about gone now, at least the California crop. It all comes in at once, basically, and after about four weeks, it's gone until next year.
Fortunately, in NY, the apricot season is now upon us, and I don't think it's fully here yet. I say that because the big supplier at the farmers market did not have any today. There have been small supplies, but the flood that we'll see later, isn't here yet.
I love apricots. To me, they have a unique flavor and texture, that allows for so many uses. You can roast them, grill them, stuff them (they are PERFECT in the recipe for stuffed, baked fruit I gave many blogs ago), and of course, for eating out of hand. You should buy them slightly firm and underripe and let them come to full ripeness on a counter , unrefrigerated, and then enjoy them. And thank the little microclimate around Lake Geneva, in upstate NY, that allows us to grow these lovelies.
So, where's the recipe? Well, I'm going to provide you with my recipe for apricot sorbet below, and perhaps in days to come, if you want it, for apricot curd. And I will also, perhaps this weekend, describe the fun of making "noyaux" based desserts. "Noyau" in French is a pit. But it's used almost exclusively for those little, almond like things that you find when a peach pit cracks open. You know the things I mean, right? Apricots have them, too, and those are the ones I use. I save the pits in the freezer, and when I have enough, I toast them, crack em open with a nutcracker or a hammer, and then use the guys. (In fact, "amaretti" are made, almost exclusively, of these guys).
But ok, to the sorbet. You'll need about 2.5 pounds of ripe apricots. You're going to cook them,and then puree them, so don't worry about how you cut them, but cut them into uneven pieces, and put them in a pot that is about twice as big as the volume of apricots you have. Then add a quarter cup of water, cover the pot, and cook, at a gentle heat, for about ten minutes. You'll see the apricots begin to break up and soften, and that's what you want. When it's happened, let them cool until they're warm, or even cold, and then puree the batch in a food processor. You will have, say, three cups or so.
Now, for the most important step: taste the puree. Apricots can vary in sweetness, and you're going to need to make a judgement on how much sugar to add. The "bottom line" is that you will want a quarter cup of sugar per cup of puree. What you need to do is to dissolve the at least 3/4 cup of sugar in half a cup of water, and then stir it into the puree. Again, taste it. Remember that freezing deadens sweetness, so you actually want something that is SWEETER than you like it. If you feel you would want more sugar, if your apricots are still warm, then just dissolve some more sugar into them. If not, you may want to add just a few tablespoons of water to your sugar, and make a little more syrup (incidentally, if you are a big sorbet maker, it doesn't hurt to make this syrup in volumes and then use it as you go along. It's basically the same for all sorbets).
This recipe is reason enough to buy an ice cream maker, even if it's a small one, where you have to put the cannister in the freezer overnight. You want that apricot puree to be nice and cold, anyway, so chill it while your cannister is chilling and then, follow the instructions and make some wonderful sorbet.
The color of this sorbet can only be described as a glorious sunset. If you're fortunate enough to have something like a raspberry sorbet to put it next to, for color and taste contrast, wonderful. Or just pour a red syrup of some kind, or pureed raspberries or just whole raspberries. It's a wonderful combination that really needs to be tasted. NOW. So, go get to work...