You still have to wait a bit for those classic apricots, the Blenheims, to come into season (think mid-June). In the meantime, if you're a some-is-better-than-none kind of person, you may happily settle for the aprium. It's mostly an apricot, about 75%. And when you first bite into it, it's that velvety apricot honey that hits you. The other 25% of the aprium comes from the plum, and doesn't become apparent until the finish, when a soft tang emerges.
California grows a nation's worth of apricots, and thanks to the cooler weather we've had this May, the country is just going to have to be patient. Ripening is slow going and growers are predicting harvests to be about a week off for standard apricots. Purists can wait all they like, but they're missing out on one of the more interesting stone fruits of the season. The aprium's flavor profile is very pleasant and a little complex, a true California hybrid that won't commit to one fruit profile, though they are really mostly apricot-like. They're easy eating too, splitting at the seam with gentle pressure. Burkart Organics (at the Hollywood market) has the Honey Rich variety in right now, launching what is slated to be a really wonderful stone fruit season, if a little late.
Oliver Garner started his employment at Burkart in the packing shed, giving him ample time to zero in on some favorites. "These apriums are so good now, but in a week they'll be even better," he said. "Also, my favorites, the yellow nectarines will be in soon. Maybe next week."
Garner prefers them all for fresh eating, but a customer who overhead the conversation piped in and said she makes an annual aprium cobbler for her family. Sounded great, but she wouldn't part with the recipe. Substituting the apriums in a good peach cobbler recipe would probably do the trick though.
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As with all stone fruit, beware the soft spot, especially the brown ones. Nicks and cuts should be avoid as well. They are on the soft side and have thin skin, so a little bump damage is common. Just be selective. And above all, taste. This is prime sample season, so there's no reason not to know what your fruit is going to taste like.
If you get a chance, hit up the McMurray Family Farms booth (they're at Hollywood and the Wednesday Santa Monica markets) for their Champagne Coral cherries. Black and inky with a tender but dense flesh, the Champagne Corals have a rich, almost creamy cherry flavor that begs to be made into a decadent black cherry ice cream or soaked in brandy. So far it's one of our favorites of the cherry season.