Versatile Dried Apricot Paste: If you have followed my blog for a while, you know that enjoy making UrbnSpice confitures, chutneys and compotes and that this is a fun part of what I create in the UrbnSpice kitchen. Every once in a while, when inspired by an idea for a condiment to accompany a particular cheese, main dish or dessert, working with seasonal ingredients is rather challenging.
So, what do you do when that idea Will.Not.Leave.Your.Head? You come up with an alternative – in this case, dried apricots. Dried apricots are one of those lovely pantry products that I think are sadly undervalued. Did you know that dried apricots provide substantial health benefits? They are excellent sources of soluble fibre, potassium (helps maintain healthy blood pressure, and balance of cellular water levels) and antioxidant carotenoids (Vitamin A, which functions as an antioxidant and helps with cell growth, immune system, and eye health), as well as providing a source of iron.
In my pretty UrbnSpice Confetti Pepper Jelly, I use dried apricots as a base, which in turn helps to keep the medley of colourful peppers beautifully suspended in the jelly.
I also use dried apricots in many savoury dishes, such as stuffing, cauliflower rice tabbouleh, chicken tagine, rice pilaf, or as a baking ingredient.
In the kitchen, I use the prepared Dried Apricot Paste as a compote with pork dishes, as a glaze for ham, or as a filling for cakes, pastries and cookies, and even on my cheese platter to serve with Brie or Cream Cheese. On charcuterie platters, I often serve the apricot paste with rillettes de porc or country paté. The balance of tangy apricot with creamy cheeses and rich meat is absolutely epic.
On bistro menus, I have noticed apricot paste accompanying foie gras on a small plate or appetizer offering. I have always wanted to duplicate that dish as a starter. I even imagine how I would serve it – a luscious little slice of freshly seared foie gras with a gorgeous spoon of dried apricot paste beside it, together with crunchy crostini and a glass of crisp Sauternes or Pinot Gris. I must try that soon.
CHEF TALK: The recipe for my Versatile Dried Apricot Paste is very versatile. It is easy to make and it stores very well in the refrigerator in a sealed container for several weeks. This recipe makes about 1 litre of apricot paste. Typically, I double the recipe to preserve it for pantry storage (I ladle the paste into small jars and process them in a water bath) so that I can use the paste all year around.
Versatile Dried Apricot Paste
- 1 1/2 cups dried apricots, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup white wine or apple juice
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar or maple syrup
- pinch of fine salt
- Zest of 1/2 of a lemon
- 1 – 2 Tablespoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Brandy
- In a heavy saucepan, bring the apricots, wine, water, sugar, salt, zest to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
- Lower the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the liquid reduces and starts to looks more like syrup. The apricots will start to break down and become soft. This will take about 20 minutes. Add more water, if necessary.
- Remove from the heat and add the brandy. Cool slightly.
- With an immersion blender (or a food processor), puree the fruit mixture until it is very smooth. Add more water if necessary to achieve a nice paste.
- At this point, you have two choices. Either ladle the mixture into small sterilized jars and process for longer storage, or place into containers with a sealed lid and store in the refrigerator for several weeks or freeze the containers for up to three months.
- Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Try your hand at making this very easy Dried Apricot Paste – you will find a multitude of uses for it. My granddaughter and I spread the very same paste as a filling in between baked cookie-like disks of Vinarterta layers (you can find the recipe for this lovely vintage cake recipe here). If you make this recipe for Versatile Dried Apricot Paste, please leave a comment – I want to hear how you used it.
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