How to Pick, Prep, and Cook with Apricots

A member of the stone fruit family thanks to its stone-
like pit, this sweet-tart favorite is so much more than 
a peach wannabe. Here’s how to choose it and use it while it's in season.
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A member of the stone fruit family thanks to its stone-
like pit, the sweet-tart apricot is so much more than 
a peach wannabe.

Pick
Harbingers of summer, apricots are often available at markets before other stone fruits. “For superior flavor and aroma, look for the Blenheim variety,” says Bruce Steele of Winfield Farm in Buellton, Calif. He suggests selecting apricots that are slightly yielding to the touch (but not mushy). Place unripe apricots in a paper bag at room temperature for one to two days. The delicate fruit will continue to ripen quicker than other stone fruits, so enjoy apricots promptly, or store in the refrigerator for up to three days; to prevent bruising, try not to stack them.

Prep
Remove pits by running a paring knife around the fruit following its natural seam, then gently twist the halves apart, and pop out the kernel. 
If not using right away, brush the cut sides with lemon juice to prevent the flesh from discoloring. Apricots can be enjoyed raw, while grilling, baking, or simmering intensifies their natural sweetness. Steele suggests using these fruits for jellies or preserves due to their fleeting season and short shelf life. If a recipe calls for peeling apricots, slice an X in the skin, then submerge the fruit in boiling water for 30 seconds, and remove with a slotted spoon. Once cooled, the skin will peel off effortlessly.

Try This
1. For a spicy-sweet riff on gazpacho, blend together apricots, cucumber, scallions, mint, jalapeño, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt; add water as needed, and serve garnished with diced avocado.

2. Toss together a salad of sliced apricots, chickpeas, arugula, mint, sliced red onion, chopped almonds, and feta cheese; serve with an orange-ginger vinaigrette.

3. Blend together apricots, ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and vanilla extract; pour into ice pop molds, and freeze.

4. Chop apricots and combine with berries and apricot preserves for a sweet take on salsa (pictured).

 What’s your favorite way to use apricots? Share in the comments below!