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Apricots are one of nature’s sweet rewards for making it through another winter season. Our region’s farmers’ markets are now overflowing with beautiful, ripe apricots, and it’s definitely the time to savor this beloved stone fruit. The fresh apricot harvest normally begins in mid-May (though this season it started about a week early), and only lasts for approximately eight weeks.
Did you know that apricots are originally from China? They arrived in Europe via Armenia, which is why their scientific name is Prunus armenaica. The fruit is packed with beta-carotene and fiber, and is also a great source of Vitamin A and C.
When shopping for fresh apricots, choose plump, well-formed, slightly firm fruit with a delicate aroma and golden orange color. To ripen firm fruit, keep it at room temperature until softened, or put it in a paper bag with an apple or a banana (this will quicken the softening process). Ripe fruit should be refrigerated if not eaten immediately.
Apricots are wonderful in an array of baked goods – from pies and cobblers to muffins and upside-down cakes. But they also work well in a number of savory dishes, and have a particular affinity with pork. If you’re interested in experimenting with a savory recipe, try Martha Stewart’s scrumptious Pork, Apricot, and Red-Onion Kebabs: this easy recipe is a great choice for a casual outdoor dinner with friends.
Martha Stewart’s Pork, Apricot, and Red-Onion Kebabs
Vegetable oil, for grates
1/4 cup apricot jam
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound), cut into 20 cubes (each 1 inch)
8 apricots (about 1 pound), pitted and quartered
1 small red onion, cut into 2-inch wedges, layers separated
Heat grill to medium; lightly oil grates. Soak four 12-inch wooden skewers in a shallow dish of water for 15 minutes (or use metal ones).
Make basting sauce: In a small saucepan, heat jam, cayenne, and 1 tablespoon water over medium-low until jam is liquefied; season with salt and pepper.
Onto each skewer, alternately thread 5 pieces of pork with 8 of apricot and 4 of onion, beginning and ending with pork. Grill kebabs, turning occasionally and brushing with basting sauce, until pork is cooked through and apricots begin to char, 12 to 14 minutes.