Apricot

Known for their delicious taste and aroma, apricots are a fruit also used in pies and cakes.

The Turkish word ‘mevye’, meaning fruit, came into the language from the Persian ‘mive’. Although the word ‘yemiş’ is used in place of ‘meyve’ in the Turkic languages of Central Asia and in some parts of Anatolia, ‘meyve’ has firmly established itself in our language as well as on our palates thanks to its euphonious sound and the wide range of flavors offered by the many species it includes.

We are going to talk here about the very dark yellow, very sweet, and, according to some, the very Malatya apricot, which offers a unique richness in terms both of its name and taste and of its wide variety of uses.

A member of the Rosaceae family, the apricot is a close relative of the plum, the peach, the cherry and the almond. It is said to have come originally from China. First processed by the Chinese, the apricot spread westward via Iran thanks to the Silk Road. The Iranians called it ‘zard alu’ (yellow plum), and a somewhat smaller and less sweet variety is known in Turkey as ‘zerdali’, which is also the word used in cookbooks from the Ottoman period.

A swath of land stretching across the Himalayas from China to Southern Europe, including Turkey, and as far as North Africa and California constitutes the world apricot belt today. But varieties ranging in size from as tiny as a pea to as large as a peach and in colors ranging from white, grey and black to pink and yellow grow only along a line running from Turkey to Turkestan in Central Asia.

Like certain other fruits, the apricot readily lends itself to drying. But dried apricots are very different from other dried fruits. As soft as a morsel of Turkish delight, dried apricots, due to their fibrous properties, retain their moist texture and fresh aroma beneath the skin. Unlike many dried fruits they are not rock hard and therefore need not be soaked in water before using. For this reason they are easily the healthiest choice for consumption as candy or a snack. I might also point out that apricots are used frequently as supplemental ingredients in the world pastry business for their fine taste and aroma.

There’s no disputing the fact that Turkey’s eastern province of Malatya produces the highest quality apricots and related products in the world.
Several different species of apricot are produced in Turkey for different purposes, of which drying is only one.

Like almond paste or marzipan, a paste made from crushed apricot pits is also used in the pastry sector. Although these pits are sold in herbalist’s shops, the experts recommend consuming only five or six apricot pits at one time.

‘While green it turns white / Then slowly yellows / As it yellows it sways / Getting sweeter all the while”
Bon appetit!

Recipes
Apricot stew

Ingredients:
250 gr fresh or dried apricots
400 gr lamb stew meat
3 cups water
2 tbsp molasses Turkish ‘pekmez’
1 onion, chopped
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves (Laurel)

Preparation:
Melt the butter in a pot, add the chopped onion and saute until it begins to color. Add the lamb stew meat and brown for 4-5 minutes. Then add the bay leaves, salt and pepper and let simmer over low heat until the meat is tender. When the meat is almost tender, add the apricots and the molasses. Bring to a boil briefly, remove from the heat and serve hot.

Candied apricots
Ingredients:

1/2 kg dried apricots
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup ground walnuts
1 tbsp butter, unsalted
1 cup water
2 sticks of cinnamon

Preparation:
Place the dried apricots in boiling water for 15 minutes, then rinse and drain.
Arrange in a pot and cover with the sugar and cinnamon stick. Add the water and turn on the heat.Let simmer over low heat until the water is absorbed and the apricots are cooked through. Melt the butter in a skillet and pour over the apricots in the pot. Turn to coat evenly, remove to a serving plate and sprinkle with the ground walnuts. Serve warm.


Apricots stuffed with clotted cream

Preparation:
Soak the apricots in cold water for about two hours. Boil in water with the sugar for 5 minutes, then cool. When cool split halfway open with a knife and stuffed with the clotted cream. May be dunked in ground pistachios before serving.

Ingredients:
500 gr dried apricots
250 gr clotted cream (Turkish ‘kaymak’)
1 tbsp green pistachios
250 gr granulated sugar
250 gr water


Apricot cake
Ingredients:
5 eggs
300 gr flour
250 gr granulated sugar
10 gr baking powder
250 gr butter
200 gr dried apricots,
finely chopped


Preparation:
Break the eggs into a mixing bowl, add the sugar and beat until the mixture thickens. Then add the baking powder and butter and continuing beating. Add the flour little by little. When the ingredients are mixed well, add the chopped apricots. Pour the batter into a greased cake pan and bake for 40 minutes at 170° C. Cool and serve.

Meat and apricot stew
Ingredients:
500 gr lamb stew
meat with bones
300 gr dried apricots
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 cups water

Preparation:
Melt the butter in a skillet, add the onion and saute until it begins to color. Add the lamb stew meat and bones and mix well. Brown until the meat juices are absorbed. Add the salt and pepper and water. Cook over low heat until the meat is tender. When the meat is almost done, add the dried apricots and let simmer until done. Serve piping hot.

Apricot souffle
Ingredients:
500 gr milk
125 gr granulated sugar
100 gr butter
150 gr flour
5 eggs
200 gr apricots,
finely chopped

Preparation:
Mix the milk and sugar in a pot and let simmer. Melt the butter in another pot. Then add the flour little by little, browning slowly over low heat. When browned, pour the boiling milk over it. Cook the mixture well, stirring constantly with a spoon, then set aside to cool. Separate the eggs and add one by one to the cooled mixture. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Add the finely chopped apricots to the souffle mixture, then carefully fold in the egg whites. Grease the souffle molds and sprinkle with sugar. Divide up the mixture into the molds and bake for 20 minutes in a pre-heated 200° C. oven. Serve piping hot. May be served with powdered sugar and/or cream.