Apricots & Lessons From Helen

by Matt on June 13, 2007


My mother, the ever-so-gorgeous Helen, taught me a few important lessons as a child. They are:

  • Never criticize the tidiness of someone’s home while standing inside it even if you cannot pass through the hallway and the kitchen table is covered in Christmas decoration boxes and it’s July.
  • Bodily functions aren’t funny–even though to 6-year old boys they are, really.
  • Children aren’t supposed to eat flashlight bulbs and raw garden snails. Hey, I like crunch. So sue me.
  • Always wash your hands.
  • Never look a gift horse in the mouth.

I’ve pretty much followed the rules throughout my life, save a few here and there. I’ve especially learned to never seem ungrateful when a horse trots by bearing gifts, even though something tells me it’s not really a horse and why exactly are you not supposed to look a horse in the mouth? What if you’re a veterinarian providing dental care to Sweet Kentucky Spirit? What do you do then? Man, it’s confusing.

In my case there’s no horse but a tree. A very happy apricot tree that has exploded with fruit and gone crazy. And when I say crazy I don’t mean a few pounds here and there but bushels of tiny fruit that is falling like crazy, plopping on the ground and leaving that distinctive sweet-rotting vinegary smell while the birds and insects have their way. At first I felt slightly annoyed and then I could hear my mother’s voice in my head. The voice said "Mateo do not hit your sister over the head with the croquet mallet!" and then it gave way to "How nice of that tree to bear so much fruit for you and all it asks in return is that you make your bed and wash your hands because once I saw a vending machine clerk wipe his nose and then refill the candy dispenser and did you think for one second he stopped to wash his hands? No he didn’t and you will never be allowed to buy gum balls from them so don’t even ask me for a nickel and if you want something sweet you’ll wait until we get home and ask your Abuela because I know she has some galletas and pan dulce made by good people who wash their hands after they sneeze so get in this stationwagon now young man and don’t make me call your father MATEOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Oops. Sorry about that. Clearly I’m working through some vending machine issues.

Anyway, mom was right. The tree was offering its bounty to me, no questions asked.

Not one to disobey my mother, I came home early today and headed to the backyard armed with a few empty bowls and a ladder. I gingerly plucked the fruit from the branches, sorted through the half-eaten pieces (loads of thanks, you dirty birdies) and saved the pristine ones. When I was done I couldn’t believe the amount of apricots I had and just like a child I ran into the house, bowls in arms, screaming. At first I wondered what I was going to do with all the fruit, and before I could hear my mom’s voice yelling at me in my head I remembered our latest kitchen resource that is torn and dog-eared already: The Perfect Scoop. I won’t harp on David’s brilliance here, but let me just say that if you think it "might" be in his ice cream book then yes, it magically appears in there. A quick search through the index took me to page 76, and there it was, waiting for me and my bushels of freshly picked summer apricots.

Right after I washed my hands.


Fresh Apricot Ice Cream fromThe Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

David says if you’re lucky enough to find a bounty of fresh summer apricots then you must take advantage of them–their season is far too short. Just come over to my house in the next few days and you can have as many as you want!

1 pound squishy-ripe fresh apricots (10 to 16, depending on size)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
3 drops almond extract
a few drops freshly squeezed lemon juice

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

Once cool, purée the apricots and any liquid in a blender or food processor until smooth. Taste a big spoonful; if there are any small fibers, press the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove them. Stir in the cream, almond extract, and lemon juice.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.