Friday, 13 June 2014

Apricot Trees and Recipes

 Apricot Trees and Recipes


Our tree after I'd picked most of the fruit
Apricot trees seem to do well on the island. To have an apricot tree is a very proud accomplishment as apricot trees are not something I’ve had before. Here we have one that is flourishing. We might never be there to see the blossom but fruit ripens soon after we arrive. Some years the tree is heavily ladened with fruit, though not every year. The glut year I make up batches of compote and freeze for later in the year. One year we were not there in time and a neighbour offered to pick them for us and make up batches of apricot jam. Takis prides himself on his jam so was very critical of the jam that Costa brought around for us when we arrived. He had added cinnamon to the mixture and my chef thought that spoilt the flavour. However I found that made into an almond and apricot pie it was just right.

Ripening Fruit

 Heidi Gilemeister, whose book introduced me to the Mediterranean Garden Society, writes that an apricot tree lights up the garden in late winter with its early blooms and goes on to say that one should be careful when planting an apricot tree as they need to have very good drainage. She recommends plums as being hardier. I have never been in Greece to see my apricot in bloom. Evidently my tree likes where it is planted as it has had a wonderful harvest of fruit for the last three summers. However I’m still trying to get a good fruiting plum. I wrote before of one that large enough to be ladened with fruit but then the minute I’d picked the crop it died!


Early spring blossoms

Apricot Fruit

Some tips from the internet, National Gardening Association Editors


Apricots need water consistently throughout the growing season. Lack of moisture in early summer will result in small fruits; later in the season, it can interfere with bud set for next year's crop. You will probably need to water deeply every 10 to 14 days if there is no rain. Where there is plenty of moisture in the winter and spring, you may need to water only three or four times during the summer.

Ripe Fruit


Since apricots bloom very early and many flowers may be killed by frost, wait until after petal fall to prune.

Takis cutting up apricots for jam



The harvest season for apricots is July in mild climates and August in colder ones, though different varieties can be slightly earlier or later. (In Lemnos the apricot season seems to be early June) Expect 3 to 4 bushels of fruit from a full-size tree. Pick the fruits after they attain a rich apricot colour and give slightly when pressed. (In Lemnos a strong wind can cause them to drop so it’s best to pick just before they get too ripe and at the dropping stage.)

The apricot season is short, so try to plan around it. If you leave for a 2-week vacation at the crucial time, you may come back to bushels of spoiled fruit on the ground.


Eating and Preserving

As they all ripen at once you need to have some contingency plans as to what to do with them. I have now found I have diabetes and so I avoid recipes with too much sugar, and if a little sweetening is needed I use Fructose, sparingly.


I don’t need to tell you that eating them fresh is the very best way to deal with them. But you find you cannot eat so many, and they are ripening too fast you can…..


1.      Some of the Best

Put some of the best, unmarked and unbruised, in the fridge, they will keep about a week.

2.      Cooked.

     Use bruised and marked apricots with a little Fructose. Cut in half and remove stone and marked parts, then cook until they just come to the boil, are softened, but not too much. Cools slightly and put in cleaned ice-cream containers and freeze.

Frozen Apricot Compote

3.      Apricot Jam.

This is a classic product, and used for topping a Linzer Torte (an almond and apricot cake).

A Linzer Torte


I.5 kg (3lb 5oz) halved and stoned apricots, chopped

Juice of 2 lemons

¾ up water

1.5 kg (3lb 5oz) sugar

Crease a large saucepan with butter. Add apricots, lemon juice and water and stew over medium heat until apricots are soft. Add sugar and bring to the boil, stirring frequently. Continue to boil until setting point is reached, stirring frequently or jam will catch.

Pour into warm sterilized jars and seal immediately.

Store for up to 12 months in a cool dark place. Refrigerate after opening.

Makes approximately 1.5kg (3lb 5oz)

Apricot Jam (some made with sugar for Takis and some with Fructose for me)

4.      Apricot and Citrus Fruit Butter

(good to have with cold chicken or cheese)

 1/5 kg (3lb 5oz) halved and stoned apricots

Zest and juice of 2 oranges, juice of 1 lemon, 1 cup of water.


 Combine apricots, orange juice and zest, and lemon juice in a large saucepan.

Add water and cook for 30 min. or until apricots are very tender. Stir often.

Pass mixture through a sieve and return to cleaned saucepan.

For every 3 cups of puree add 2 ½ cups of sugar. (I used less)

Bring to the boil stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue to boil stirring constantly for 30 mins, or until mix is thick.

You could pour it into jars at this stage but I put the mixture into foil-lined pans in the oven and continued to dry the mixture for another hour and half. It is now very thick. I scooped it up into jars at this stage. We had some last night with chicken for supper, it was superb.

Apricot Curd

  5.   Lastly Apricot Curd.

I love lemon curd and thought that I could never eat this sweet again but now I’ve found a way. It has to be kept in the fridge after it is made and used within 3 weeks so you only make a small amount, unless you’re going to use it for cooking (how about a curd filled sponge?)

500g (1 lb 2 oz) diced apricots

Juice of 1 lemon, ½ cup water

400g (14 oz) sugar

4 eggs lightly beaten

150g (5 1.2 oz) butter

Place apricots, lemon juice and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally and cook until apricots are soft. Puree. Add sugar and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly as mixture may catch. Remove from heat and whisk in eggs and butter. Return to a very low heat and stir constantly until thickened (do not allow to boil).

Pour into warm sterilized jars and seal immediately then store in the fridge.

Makes approximately 750g (1 lb 10 oz)

(A note: Takis and I reuse jam jars and their lids. This may not be recommended practice but works for us. And the jars do not all seal, but most do. Also we both have different ways of sterilizing and heating our jars. I just use the hot water from the tap. He puts his jars in the oven to heat up.)

Books Referred to

Sally Wise, A year in a Bottle, Sally Wise, an ABC Book
Heidi Gildemeister, Gardening the Mediterranean Way: Practical Solutions for Summer-dry Climates, Thames and Hudson.



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