Apricots and Apriums
Truly from the cradle of civilization, the Apricot was first grown in ancient India around the year 3000 BCE. Ancient Greeks called them “the golden eggs of the sun.” By the 16th century, apricots were successfully cultivated throughout Northern Europe. In the Middle East, where apricots are used extensively both fresh and dried, the fruit’s brief season became the source of an Egyptian saying, “fel meshmesh” or “in the apricot,” used much as English speakers would say “once in a blue moon.” Something is “fel meshmesh” when it’s unlikely to happen because the time for it is so brief. Like cherries, our apricots are here and gone again in the blink of an eye, although some new varieties including the Apache and the Honeyrich aprium have extended our harvest.
As of 2012, we grow and harvest 10 varieties of apricots which includes one aprium variety and one white apricot variety. We've also added the spectacular Blenheim apricot to our certified organic lineup of fruits. Our typical apricot harvest runs from mid-May to early July:
The Apache is one of the newest varieties of apricots introduced to growers and was developed by the USDA Agricultural Research Service. It's early off the tree, and like our Brooks cherries, doesn't sacrifice any flavor or texture to beat its more popular cousins off the branch. Apaches are available mid-May to early June.
The pluots we grow are the more well known of Floyd Zaiger's work to crossbreed plums and apricots, but the Honey Rich is a prime example of the aprium which most strongly resembles its apricot parentage. Sweet even when the flesh is still crisp, they continue to ripen into soft juicy delicacies. Honey Riches are available mid-May to early June.
Our stone fruit season has fully arrived when the Robadas are ready to pick. By then, we've got several varieties coming in from the orchards, and usually the arrival of the Robada apricot and the Bing cherry come hand in hand. A large and robust apricot, the Robada has a particularly vibrant blush that makes the fruit seem to glow on the branch, almost like tiny Japanese lanterns lit from within. Robadas are available late May to early June.
The Orangered variety was developed at Rutgers University by Leon Hough. They have a very limited harvest season which can be as brief as only a few days. They have a richly scented flesh and rival the Robada for size as the largest apricot variety we grow. Orange Reds typically harvest sometime in late May or early June.
Following up two of our largest varieties is the Golden Sweet, a smaller apricot that makes up for whatever it lacks in size with its rich flavor. Though we may bake pastries featuring other varieties, the Golden Sweet is our variety of choice for our best-selling apricot conserve. Another California born and bred variety, it has a brilliant golden orange skin with a soft blush. Goldensweets typically harvest from late mid-June to early July.
New to our apricot lineup is the Blenheim, an extremely sweet variety that like the Golden Sweet produces a smaller fruit but is a favorite amongst apricot lovers. We acquired several acres of conventionally farmed Blenheim trees in 2008 and have been tending to them organically since. The crop from these trees are not yet eligible for organic certification until they are out of their transitional period. Blenheims typically harvest from late mid-June to early July.