Thursday, June 03, 2010


Until I moved to California, I had never tasted a fresh apricot. I’m not sure I’d even seen one before. I may not have even given a thought to their existence, although if I’d considered it, of course I would have realized that the dried ones had to come from somewhere. But it’s not like I sit around eating dried apricots all the time anyway.

Nowadays I’m getting to be an old pro at this Californian thing, so I get happy when fresh apricots start showing up at the farmers’ market in the spring. I’ll admit, however, that my happiness springs less from my and enjoyment of the apricots themselves and more from the fact that they herald the beginning of stone-fruit season. It turns out that I think fresh apricots are OK, but they don’t hold a candle to nectarines or peaches or even plums in my affection. Still, when I suddenly realized that I need to start making ice cream in all the fresh fruit flavors of my dreams NOW NOW NOW before it gets too hot, I turned to apricots because they’re the most genuinely in season. And of course, David Lebovitz had a recipe for fresh apricot ice cream in The Perfect Scoop. And it involved almond extract, my favorite!

Lebovitz encourages you to use super-ripe, squishy apricots, but I may have been a little early in the season because I had trouble finding ones that weren’t hard. Yeah, I could have waited a few days for them to ripen, but I wanted to make the ice cream right away because I had time that day and I’m impatient like that. So I asked the fruit-stand proprietor if he had any overripe apricots and he pointed me to a box behind the counter where the softer, bruised and dented specimens were tossed. Even those weren’t crazy ripe, mostly just bruised here and there, but I got them for the bargain price of 80 cents (as opposed to the normal price of $2.50)!

The ice cream was easy to make (slice apricots, simmer in water, stir in sugar, blend with other ingredients) and churned up nice and fluffy. At first I was a little disappointed with the flavor—it was on the tart side (maybe because of the ripeness issue) and I couldn’t taste the almond, just intense apricotiness. But after a few days—I don’t know if the flavors developed in the freezer or if my mood just shifted or what—I started to really love it. It was so fresh, unique, and summery; it’s like I finally understand what fresh apricots are for, and I feel lucky to have access to them.

1 pound squishy-ripe fresh apricots (10–16, depending on size)
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
3 drops almond extract
A few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Slice the apricots open and remove the pits, then cut each apricot into sixths. Cook them with the water in a covered medium saucepan over medium heat until tender, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.

2. Puree the apricots and any liquid in a blender or food processor until smooth. (If there are little fibers left, you can strain the mixture through a sieve.) Stir in the cream, almond extract, and lemon juice. Chill mixture thoroughly.

3. Process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Yields:1 quart
Time: About 20 minutes of active work, plus a few hours of chilling, plus processing time
Leftover potential: Good, for about a week

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