Friday, May 02, 2014

Simply Apricots.

Historians disagree as to whether apricots originated in China or Central Asia – the latter theory being reflected in the botanical name for the fruit – Prunus armeniaca. The English word apricot derives from the Portuguese albricoque or Spanish albaricoque, which in turn reflects the source of most of the fruit arriving in Britain in Roman times. The origin of the Portuguese and Spanish words is of course, Latin, and derives from praecoquum, a variant of praecox, which means ‘early-ripe, ripe in summer’ –from which we also get the word precocious.

There may be gaps and uncertainties in the story of the apricot, but consumers and cooks are pretty unanimous that the fruit is delicious and versatile. I give you three interesting historical recipes using apricots:

Confiture d'Amandes Vertes ou d'Abricots Verts.
Preserved Green Almonds or Green Apricots.
After taking off the down from the green apricots or almonds, as directed for the compote of green apricots, boil them in water till, on pricking them, a pin easily enters, and the apricot shrinks: then clarify some sugar, a pound to a pound Of fruit: boil up the sirup four or five successive days, morning and evening, without the fruit, which you leave to drain upon a sieve; lastly, put the fruit into a pan, and, when rather more than lukewarm, pour the sirup over it: when the apricots or almonds look very green, the sweetmeats are properly done.
French domestic cookery, by an English physician, 1825

Abricots a 1'Eau de Vie.
Apricots in Brandy.
Choose some fine apricots, not quite ripe, rub off the down with a cloth, and prick them through with a large pin; put them into boiling water a moment, then take them out, drain, and dry them: this is called blanching them.
For five and twenty apricots you should clarify about a pound of sugar in a pint of water. Then put the apricots into it, and, when they have boiled up, take them off the fire, and leave them in the sirup till the following day, when they should be strained again. Boil the sugar up again several times, again put in the apricots, let them simmer a little, and then take them off. When cold, put them into large bottles, adding the sirup, reduced as much as possible, but taking great care that it does not become candied. Fill your bottles up with brandy, and cork them tight. If you are obliged to use ripe apricots, it will be unnecessary to blanch them.
French domestic cookery, by an English physician, 1825

To make Apricot Dumplings.
Pare your apricots, but do not stone them, roll them in paste as you do apples for dumplings; three quarters of an hour will boil them; serve them with butter and sugar in a sauce-boat, and sift them over with fine sugar; for the crust three quarters of a pound of butter, a pound of flour, one egg; make it in a paste with cold water.

The New Practice of Cookery, Pastry, Baking, and Preserving: Being the Country Housewife's Best Friend. Mrs Hudson and Mrs Donat (1804)

1 comment:

korenni said...

Isn't that last recipe interesting. Why wouldn't you want to stone the apricots?