When you get a huge box of fruit, your mind starts swirling around that particular fruit and it's possibilities, and then, fun things happen. Or at least that's how I feel about it. This is what happened when I picked up a 25-pound box of apricot seconds the other day.
After I tweeted for apricot inspiration, I got a response from my friend, Sarah (SarahBHood on Twitter or Toronto Tasting Notes). Sarah has a delicious and creative new canning book just out, We Sure Can, that features one or two of my recipes, alongside some stellar jamming company too long to list (the link to the book goes to the publisher, Arsenal Pulp Press, and lists all the bloggers involved.)
Sarah gave me a few ideas for my apricots--five to be exact-- but the one that stood out for me was rosemary. I never thought to do an apricot rosemary jam, but doesn't that make the best sense in the world? Sarah mentioned her jamming buddy Alec Stockwell says it's a must. Apricot rosemary jam was the first thing I made, and I tell you, Alec was spot on, but then I didn't stop there. An extra sprig of rosemary was sitting on the counter looking to be useful as I was making an apricot pie. While making the crust in a food processor, I pulled the needles off the rosemary stem and tossed them in. The pie crust was flecked with green and added such a wonderfully subtle flavor to my apricot pie. I'm thinking of doing a peach pie next, with a lavender flowers in the crust.
I also really wanted to make the Best of Both Worlds Jam from Mrs. Wheelbarrow's post on apricots four ways. I mean, does this woman keep giving, or what? Apricots, sour cherries and St. Germain. Wait, what?? But I got carried away with so many ideas, and what I did end up doing was making an apricot blueberry, and an apricot vanilla with noyaux (a jam I made last year and was disappointed by at the start, only to open mid-winter and fall in love with it), in addition to the apricot rosemary.
Instead of a fourth batch, which I was tempted by, I did something new to me and dried a few pounds of apricots. What's really exciting to me about this idea is that I don't have a dehydrator. The best ways to dehydrate food are obvious ones: a dehydrator, the sun, and your oven. I used my cold smoker which is electric. It maintains a temperature of about 120 degrees. I kept it in a sunny spot (I have an outdoor outlet that gets full sun) to increase the heat. (Of course, I didn't put any wood chips in, but I'm seriously considering how wood-smoked fruit must taste like.)
My apricots dried in little over 24 hours. I sprinkled them with lemon juice prior to drying to prevent browning. Now, I know not everyone has a cold smoker just hanging out in their shed, but if you do, you might want to utilize it to dry your excess bounty. In my mind's eye, I already have that thing working overtime this summer!
What are you making with apricots? Here is a look at last year's apricot endeavors:
And an Extension page from Utah University on Apricot Preservation that I consulted for drying apricots.