Juicy and sweet – the taste of summer
The apricots this season have been superb. The warmer weather here in Tasmania, including warmer nights, have ripened the crops a bit earlier than usual. We have the largest, juiciest apricots which are a delight to eat and cook with. Biting into a ripe apricot, with the juice running down your arm, is such a pleasure. Making a simple apricot crumble and serving it warm with thick cream is always a favourite with the family.
I remember from my childhood, waiting impatiently for the first apricot to ripen. Then, about two weeks later, being completely over the whole picking and preserving process (mind you, that’s what happens quickly when you are only 8 and have other more important things to do). I have strong memories of sitting up at the dining table facing masses of fresh apricots, plums and gooseberries. Would we ever get these bottled, stored and ready for winter? I just wanted to have the fruit fairy come along and do it for me! Of course, each year we did (due to my wonderful mother’s persistence). Then, in winter, the delicious crumbles and pies would make their way to the dinner table.
Now, with my passion for cooking, I’ve loved the summer fruits season and relish trying new recipes and relaxing with the favourites. My husband and our sons love apricot tarte tatin, with lashings of fresh cream or icecream. To be different, I quartered and then finely sliced 3 or 4 apricots and gently stirred them through the caramelised onion I was making to go on a pepper crusted pork cutlet. The tannins in the apricots were wonderful with the light peppery cutlet. Made a mental note to myself to include that recipe in my next weekly recipe email.
One thing I really love about being passionate about really good, local food is that you get to talk to the producers, who are as passionate about their product as you are about working with people on how to make the most of it. I loved talking to Margaret at Penna Valley Farm because, in 5 minutes, she taught me so much about the differences of each apricot variety. She clearly loves what she is doing and that inspires me. As she talked about each variety and it’s particular flavours, my head was putting together what I would do with them.
Check out their business because they do all sorts of wonderful fruit which has reminds me of my childhood. Gooseberries. Now that’s a fruit I thought I would never rave about again, but they are doing three or four varieties, including one that has a lovely deep red colour. (OK, thats a later blog). There are so many wonderful producers of apricots, plums, strawberries etc in Tasmania. I’ve chatted about one but there are so many that are passionate about their product because, rightfully so, it is top quality.