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Archive for June 1, 2011

TIP OF THE DAY: Fresh Apricots

Fresh apricots: a seasonal treat. Photo
courtesy Washington State Fruit Commission.

 

Many of us enjoy dried apricots (stuff them with goat cheese!) and apricot preserves. But how many of us eat fresh apricots in the late spring, when they come into season?

Not enough, based on a poll of THE NIBBLE staff.

Savor the flavor of fresh apricots. Different varieties of are harvested during the summer season.

  • California apricots are available from May through August.
  • Washington apricots debut in late June and continue through September.
  • In the fall, apricots from Idaho appear.
  • Apricots from Australia, Chile and New Zealand are available in the winter months—but as with all fruit that travels for weeks on a ship, they’ve been picked too green and will dissapoint.
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    In the case of imported apricots, even when ripe they will be hard and woody. As Produce Pete says, Australian apricots are fine in Australia, but not here.

    A tip on buying apricots:

  • Apricots should look fresh, not wrinkled—a sign of that they’re too old.
  • Ask the produce manager what day the apricots are delivered, and seek them out when they arrive.
  • Another reason to get apricots as soon as they arrive is that the fruit is very fragile. The more customers that touch them (and drop them), the more bruised they get. The bruise marks tend to appear when the apricots ripen. It may impact the appearance, but not the flavor.
  • Firm apricots should be gold, with no traces of green. When ripe, a good apricot will be a rich gold color all over, often with a red blush; and the flesh will be soft (but not as soft as a ripe peach).
  • Keep them on the counter to ripen; then consume them within a day or two.
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    As a general tip, keep stone fruits (apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums) out of the refrigerator. The jolt from room temperature to cold temperature can turn the flesh mushy.

    WAYS TO ENJOY APRICOTS

  • As a hand fruit (an industry term for fruit eaten out of hand, like apples, bananas and oranges).
  • With fresh goat cheese or other creamy cheese, as a dessert.
  • In fresh, warm apricot scones.
  • In an apricot lattice pie or an apricot tart.
  • In an apricot purée cake with hot apricot syrup.
  • As apricot sorbet or ice cream (substitute 1 quart apricot purée for the peaches).
  • In an airy apricot mousse.
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    Three apricots have about 51 calories, with large amounts of vitamins A and C.

      

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    PRODUCT: Samuel Adams Longshot Homebrew Variety Pack

    Last fall, Samuel Adams made dreams come true for three homebrewers, who were named at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

    More than 700 hopefuls entered their beers in the annual Samuel Adams Longshot American Homebrew Contest. The main contest is not open to employees of Samuel Adams’ maker, The Boston Beer Company. Instead, they compete in a separate, in-house competition, with equal prizes.

    The prize is the experience of brewing their beer at the Samuel Adams brewery in Boston, alongside the professional brewers. Their beer is then distributed in a Limited Edition—with the winners’ photo on the bottle. And there’s some cash: a $5,000 royalty for their recipe.

    Given how many different brews Samuel Adams already makes (more than 40), entrants are encouraged to incorporate unusual ingredients into their recipes.

    The winning beers are now available nationally in the 2011 LongShot Category 23* Variety 6-Pack, two bottles of each of the winning recipes, at a suggested retail price of $9.99:

     

    The Samuel Adams Longshot six-pack with our personal favorite. Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

     

  • Friar Hop Ale from Richard Roper of Georgia
  • Blackened Hops Beer from Rodney Kibzey of Illinois
  • Honey Bee’s Lavender Wheat Beer from Caitlin DeClercq of California, the Samuel Adams Employee Homebrew Winner
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    *Category 23 is a judging category for beers whose ingredients are so unusual that they don’t fit into the other categories.

    THE SCOOP ON THE SUDS

    Friar Hop Ale
    Richard Roper created a hybrid of two styles: a big hoppy IPA and a fruity Belgian ale. The caramel sweetness of a Belgian ale is enhanced with big, citrussy hop reminiscent of an IPA. The beer has universal appeal; but rather than have a second, we tried a different style.

    Honey Bee’s Lavender Wheat Beer
    We loved the idea created by Caitlin DeClercq, a member of the Samuel Adams sales team. She brewed a wheat beer with dried lavender petals, honey and vanilla. We’re a flavor-forward fan: While a delicious wheat beer, the lavender, honey and vanilla were too subtle for us. (“Flavor forward” is the opposite of subtle and delicate. It means that the flavors assert themselves to the point where they are easily recognized. It’s a style preference, a positive term not to be confused with “heavy-handed” or “overdone,” which are negative terms.)

    And now for our favorite among the winning trio:

    Blackened Hops Beer
    Blackened Hops Beer made by Rodney Kibzey is one we’d buy again and again. With deep roasted malt character and both citrusy and piney American hops, this dark beer is both profound and refreshing. Its black color hints at roasted malt and coffee flavors. We love hops, but this beer will appeal to the non hop-heads in the crowd. This is Rodney’s second LongShot American Homebrew Contest win. His Weizenbock was included in the 2008 LongShot Variety Pack. Rodney, we’ll gladly stop by any time for a taste of what’s brewing.

    Bravo to to the winners and to all of America’s homebrewers.

  • Learn your beer types in our Beer Glossary.
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