Last week we talked a bit about how stone fruit trees need a decently cold winter in order to catch up on their beauty sleep and be ready for spring blossoming. All that sneezing and sniffling everyone's been suffering through is the unhappy outcome of well-rested trees bursting forth with virility. That coupled with a good El Niño-boosted rainy season means we're about see the best stone fruit harvests on record, albeit about a week late. But it turns out even that has a good outcome. Cooler weather this spring delayed the fruit ripening, so the fruits kept growing while green. If the huge Honey Rich apriums we saw this weekend at the markets are a harbinger of things to come, we better buy some bigger tart pans and canning jars.
A 75/25 cross between apricots and plums, the aprium combines the size and density of a large plum with the honeyed sweetness and heavy perfume of a late-season apricot with an almost orange-like acidity. Freestone is a literal description when it comes to the aprium. You can shake ripe fruits and hear the pit tumbling around inside its smooth fruit cocoon. Andrew Garcia at Burkart Organics was marveling at this year's harvest and says the harvest will be heavy and quick. “It got hot pretty quickly so the main harvest is going to be fast and huge. Big fruits and lots of them. We should have these Honey Rich apriums for another two weeks.” He added that one of his favorite nectarines, the large, dark red, and early season Crimson Baby, should be at the markets starting next week.
Apriums have a slight apricot-like fuzz with heavy and dense flesh. Choose unblemished fruits when possible, but when they're ripe they do tend to bruise up. Harder fruits ripen easily in a paper bag. Our favorite way is to eat them out of hand, splitting them down the seam with a little pressure and allowing the pit to just fall out. They also make and incredibly aromatic and sweet jam.