Christmas Apricots

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A wetter than normal winter followed by a hotter than average spring and start to summer means Gus will be working on apricot preserving after Boxing Day for the 2018 harvest.

At the Auckland Farro Fresh Food store tasting sessions of Augustines of Central preserved apricot and quince products I told customers good fresh Central Otago apricots won’t be available until after Christmas.  But for the first time in 103 years apricots were picked in Central at the end of November.

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This display is at the Lunn Avenue Farro Fresh store. The staff really appreciate Gus’s apricots and put them in their Christmas display. Pavlova stacks top right.

At the tastings I am often asked of ways to serve Gus’s delicious apricots.  I spied another Otago product Cowell’s Pavlova stacks alongside the apricots on the Christmas display and this gave me an idea.

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With thanks to both Tansy and her partner Paul who did the photo shoot for this posting.

It’s a dessert construction idea really for when you haven’t the time to cook but will have a wow factor. That evening I tried it out with the help of my daughter Tansy.

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To really celebrate Gus’s apricot preserves I generously topped the pavlovas with Augustine’s apricot jam.  It adds colour and extra sweetness.  For a tarter flavour you cold puree some of the apricots instead.

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Next I whisked some excellent local mascarpone cream made by Il Casaro cheesemakers that’s stocked by  Farro Fresh and the cheesemakers can be found at the Grey Lynn market each Sunday.

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Alternatively use a double cream or 50/50 combination.  I chose the mascarpone cream to be firm enough to hold the fruit topping and add a richness.

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Grate any good dark chocolate over the top.  I used a Trade Aid almond dark chocolate.

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Gus uses just enough sugar to preserve so if the opened apricots are exposed to the air they will oxidise and become darker. They may not look as good but they are still good to eat.

Just before putting together drain the apricots reserving the juice to return the unused apricots to it.  They need to be drained because if too wet will make the cream topping run.

 

I placed the apricot cut side down that looked a little like an egg. Tansy suggested turning them up the other way so we could create an apricot basket and add a strawberry.

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Tansy sliced strawberries from her garden and added a mint tip to each stack creating the red and green for Christmas.

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Back home in Portobello and I made these again for our friends Jan and Wal from Christchurch as part of an early Christmas celebration.  We used whole strawberries from Butlers of South Canterbury and the cream was 50/50 mascarpone and Holy Cow Jersey double cream from Port Chalmers that we picked up at the Otago Farmers Market.

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Gus with the help of Beau picking the last of the apricots in Bannockburn February 2016 that were so ripe Gus decided to make apricot jam and add this product line in 2016.

The apricot is a diverse fruit and has different flavours when fresh, dried or preserved.  Preserving intensifies the flavour and the tartness of the fruit comes through. We describe Gus’s preserved apricots as “summer in a jar” because he captures the sun ripened fruit when they are perfect. The addition of a Central Otago Reisling wine in the syrup gives another dimension to the preserves.

Whether fresh or preserved apricots are truly a fruit that celebrates a great summer.

 

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