Photo: dongga (flickr)
This week, it is all about apricots! We have a dear friend who invites us to come gather apricots from his trees around midsummer.
The trees produce an abundance of 1 inch fruit about every other year, so knowing that we are actually putting up enough fruit for two whole years puts a lot of pressure on us to get creative.
The first time I only canned them. I used a very light sugar syrup, and canned cases of simple apricots. They were delicious, but after two years, getting sort of boring.
Picking, Sorting And Drying Apricots
To pick them, we actually take 5 gallon buckets and gather the fallen fruit from the trees. We pick them all up, to sort later.
When we get home, the apricots are sorted and green or damaged ones are fed to the chickens, while the rest of the fruits are washed and pits removed. No knife is needed, simply pull the two halves of the fruit apart and remove the seed inside.
This year, I am drying the fruit. Drying is super easy, makes a great snack, and helps fit a lot of fruit into a small space. After they are dried, apricots can be added to oatmeal, granola, sweet breads and even reconstituted and used as fruit for a cobbler.
I call them naked, because written recipes (including mine) say to dip them in pretreating solution, but I don’t bother. They come out wonderfully and taste very sweet on their own.
Make Your Own Dried Apricots
- Split each apricot and place in a single layer on your dehydrating trays.
- My dehydrator has a thermostat, so I set it to 135 degrees and let them dry until leathery. Usually, for these small of fruits, it takes about 12 hours.
- Dry time depends on so many variables, it is better to know what a properly dried apricot looks like. They should be leathery and pliable, with no juice.
- After drying, store in glass jars with lids, in the pantry.
To be honest, they never last more than a couple of months in our house. Here are some tips for using dried apricots:
- Use ripe fruit only, green ones will be flavorless when dried
- Store in jars that are smaller in size. A gallon jar would be opened many times, providing opportunity for moisture to get inside and spoiling the rest of the fruit.
- Use your favorite juice to plump the apricots up, before using in a recipe that calls for fresh fruit.