Apricot

Apricots-low-res
Turkish Apricots

With all due respect to the Austrian, French, Greek, Italian, Moldovan, Spanish and Swiss growers, the best apricots in Europe come from Anatolia, where the climate and soil are conducive to consistently high quality production, a quarter of the world crop.

The Austrians of Wachau and the Swiss of the Valais/Wallis turn their delicate fruit into apricot brandy (and liqueur), but the Turks treat the apricot like a fruit from the gods.

They eat it fresh, dry it in the sun and extend its usefulness in various ways, knowing the health benefits:

beta carotene to thwart cancer;
fibre to aid digestion;
iron to prevent anaemia;
potassium to boost the heart and kidneys; and
vitamins A, C and E to keep the body functioning

Nine tenths of the dried apricot market arise from Anatolia and are shipped around the world, where they are appreciated for their nutritional value – 100 grams of dried apricot contains 24g of dietary fibre, one gram less than an adult’s daily requirement.

Apricots make their way into a range of baked, cooked and processed foods in Turkey into jam and paste to preserve their shelf life and consequently their benefits.

Turkish apricots are of a higher quality, primarily because they are original cultivars (native species, not cross-cultivated) and have the best growing conditions in Anatolia.

The native Roxana is being developed because it is early (July), has a large fruit (80-120g) and is resistant to cold. Red with orange flesh, the kernel is sweet.

Armenian, Austrian, Greek and Hungarian apricots are also old species varieties.

The European season is May to July and through to September in some regions.

Breeders are constantly working to produce sweeter apricots by identifying the original cultivars.

Kayısı Reçeli

 

1 kg apricots, fresh unblemished
1 kg/800 g sugar
400 ml water (optional)
1 lemon, juiced
Apricot kernels

There are two distinct methods of making apricot jam.

Halve the apricots (retaining the stones) and steep overnight in the juice of one lemon and one kilo of sugar.

Crack open the stones to extract the kernels, which should be blanched to remove the skins.

Put the apricot-lemon-sugar mixture in a heavy-bottomed pan. Bring gradually and slowly to the boil until the sugar crystals have dissolved, about 15 minutes. Add the kernels for the last 10-15 minutes, testing the mixture for solidity.

This done by placing a plate in the refrigerator, spooning some mixture onto the plate. If it forms a skin and begins to set it is ready to go immediately into hot sterilised jars.

The second method calls for less sugar, which should be dissolved in the water before the apricots are added. Boil them in the sugar mixture for 10-15 minutes, add the lemon juice and kernels, reduce and test.

The first method retains the shape of each apricot half, the second produces the consistency of jam and is almost like a paste, which brings us to the next popular apricot product in Turkey.

 

Kayısı Pestili

 

1 kg apricots
100 ml water

Halve the apricots, discarding the stones, and simmer in the water until they are soft, about 20 minutes.

Liquidise, pass through a sieve and place the pulp on a buttered baking dish. Cover with cheesecloth and leave to dry in the sun until dry and leathery.

Alternatively, placed the tray in a low preheated oven, around 90°C, and bake for about two hours.

This apricot leather can be cut and reconstituted in warm water for various uses, in soups and stews, and in cakes and pastries.

One such is the Viennese Sachertorte, arguably Europe’s favourite chocolate cake.

 

Sachertorte

 

The smooth consistency of the chocolate icing gives this cake its celebrated Viennese appearance but it is the inner apricot glaze that makes it iconic. The recipe for the original Sachertorte, made by 16 year old apprentice chef Franz Sacher at the court of Prince Metternich in 1832, remains a secret.

There are now many versions of the cake. Among the best are found in Bologna at the Neri Pasticceria beyond the gate on via Saragozza and at the Caffe la Serra near the Arsenal in Venice.

Only the Italians!

This is an adaptation of the version provided by Austrian Tourism.

200 g dark 70% cocoa chocolate
150 g butter, softened
100g icing sugar
50 g vanilla sugar
7 eggs, separated
50 g sugar
150 g flour
Salt, pinch
Butter and flour for cake tin/mold
200 g apricot jam or paste, 
smooth for spreading
75 g almonds, ground
Icing (200 g dark 70% cocoa chocolate, 
250 g sugar, 150 ml water)

Melt the chocolate slowly in a bain-marie. At the same time cream the butter with the icing and vanilla sugars, stirring in the egg yolks one by one.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a cake tin with butter and sprinkle with flour.

Vigorously beat egg whites with sugar to form a stiff peak when lifted.

Stir the melted chocolate into the butter-egg paste and carefully fold in the whipped egg whites alternately with the flour and salt, and the ground almonds if preferred.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 55-60 minutes.

Turn the cake onto a board and allow to cool, turn again after 25 minutes. This will give the cake a flat surface on each side.

Reconstitute apricot paste in warm water to make 200g of soft jam.

Divide the cake into two equal bases.

Smooth jam over each base and place one on the top of the other, coating the edges with the remaining jam. Leave to set.

Dissolve the sugar in the water gradually over a medium heat until it begins to boil. Cook for five minutes, turn off heat and allow to cool. Break chocolate into small pieces, add a few at a time stirring until the glaze is smooth.

In a single movement pour the chocolate glaze over the cake, and with a broad-bladed knife smooth out until the surface and edges are coated. Apply any necessary decorations and leave to cool at room temperature.

 

Apricot Varieties

 
Aprikoz – Turkey (700,000 tonnes) 
 
Bebeco – Greece (41,000) 
 
Bergarouge – France (160,000) 
 
Bergeron – France
 
Búlida – Spain (83,000) 
 
Canine – Spain
 
Erevan – Armenia
 
Klosterneuburger/Kegelmarille – Austria
 
Luizet – Switzerland 
 
Mitger – Spain
 
Orangered – France
 
Red Galta – Spain
 
Rouge du Roussillon – France
 
Roxana – Turkey
 
Rózsakajszi – Hungary
 
Tyrinthos – Greece

 

Traditional Apricot Dishes

 

Amaretti ITALY almond, apricot kernels
and honey macaroons
 
Aprikosenkuchen mit Streuseln SWITZERLAND
apricot crumb cake
 
Aprikosentörtli SWITZERLAND apricot tart
 
Birnbrot SWITZERLAND fruit bread
 
Brac de Gitano ANDORRA apricot cream roll
 
Hutzelbrot GERMANY festive fruit cake
 
Marillenknödel AUSTRIA apricot potato dumplings
 
Marillenkuchen AUSTRIA apricot cake
 
Oie Rôtie aux Fruits FRANCE roast goose with apple, pear,
dried apricot, prune
 
Plov, Shirin EUROPE basmati rice with apricot, date, plum,
raisin, saffron
 
Plov, Shirin AZERBAIJAN basmati rice with apricot, date,
plum, raisin, saffron, fried meat
 
Tarte Tatin FRANCE apricot tart
 
Yaini ARMENIA AZERBAIJAN GEORGIA RUSSIA beef soup
with dried apricots

 

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