Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Summer? It’s the Pits

Summer means fruit with pits.

Stone fruits, they’re called.

And the race to eat them all before they inevitably get moldy. And mushy.

The transition from spring’s berries is in full swing. The berries go bad pretty quickly too, but seem to get eaten a lot quicker.

We load up on pluots, plums, peaches (white peaches can be soooo sweet), and of course apricots. Too many, I guess. I push them on everyone (come on – they’re good for you – gets things movin’!). In the hopes they will be eaten before turning.

According to McGee, I can store the stone fruit in the fridge, which I never really thought about. I usually keep all my fruit in some baskets on the counter – within easy reach, mostly of the fruit flies. We are certainly in their travel brochures as a sort of Niagara Falls destination for the romantically inclined of the little buggers, the way they multiply around our baskets (assuming the mini-beasts are sort of 50s retro in their honeymoon concepts).

We’re going to try the fridge this year. I expect the fruit will last longer before going bad (because no one will see them in the fridge, as they get pushed to the back).

I didn’t used to buy a lot of apricots. They are not always so sweet. And can be a little dry tasting. My experience with them was mostly in the dried form around Christmas time. Stuffed into a lot of cloyingly sweet cookies and desserts. So my opinion of them was not that good.

Until we discovered a quick little chutney. Made of apricots and red onion. With a little rice vinegar and sugar, and again with the five spice powder.

This is a very simple chutney to make – a 10 minute affair, but it’s amazing how much flavor it brings to almost anything – we’ve tried it with chicken, fish and even steak.

The cooking and the touch of vinegar really brings out the apricot flavor. And in a good way, a balanced way - not that mouth numbing sweet way I so often associate with dishes from my childhood.

Apricot Chutney
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4-6

2 pounds apricots, washed, pitted, and cut into quarters
1 red onion, chopped
3-4 tbsp rice vinegar
2-3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp five spice powder

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer over low heat, stirring, for 5 to 10 minutes, until the apricots are softened but not falling apart. Spoon over chicken, fish or steak. Enjoy!

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