apricot [ap-ri-kot, ey-pri-] noun
Prunus armeniaca. A luscious, small and golden stone fruit colored in a blush of deep orange or red, used fresh, canned and dried in the bakery kitchen. Apricots are at their best in North America from May through July. Choose fruit that yields to gentle pressure and emits a sweet aroma. The outer skin is velvety while the flesh is slightly juicy and rich in texture and flavor. Apricot stones (pits) usually come away from the flesh quite easily.
To ripen, simply place several apricots in a paper bag, seal it tightly and store at room temperature. Recipes often recommend that apricots be peeled. Simply blanch the whole fruit briefly in boiling water for about half a minute, gently remove with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water. The skin will slip off easily. Dried versions are available sulfured (colored bright orange) to preserve their hue, while unsulfured dried apricots are a dark brown russet shade. Blenheim apricots are our favorite dried variety, as they are particularly vivid orange in color, richly flavored and greatly enhance baked goods visually and in their taste. Known for centuries in China, Armenia and India, many are now grown in California, Australia and Turkey. Canned apricots come in either heavy syrup or fruit juice. The latter is quite handy to have on hand and they work wonderfully in tarts. (To come: video of blanching and peeling).