Apricots & Lessons From Helen


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.


  1. says

    Your Helen flashback was too funny, I had to suppress my laughter cause I read this at work! Enjoy your apricot tree, make chutneys, jam, tarts, and the like. I wish I was your neighbor, I’d definitely come over and help you out!

  2. says

    I’m getting on a plane. I’ll be there in a few hours. No, wait, I’m going to hop in my transporter, that will be faster, what are the coordinates? Honestly now, apricots are my favorite fruit and I can’t stand buying them in the grocery store because they taste like mealy mush and not like the real thing. I’m thinking I need to plant myself an apricot tree.

  3. says

    Matt – what wonderful photos. The apricots looks divine. If you want to have some of that apricot ice cream next January you might briefly cook the ‘cots and freeze them in in just the right measurements with the sugar. Then you can whip up a batch in a jiffy. Lucky you. I do this for lemon ice cream I make because the Meyer lemons all seem to ripen at once.

  4. says

    Bwahahaha! I LOVE the mommy-flashback. Priceless. I don’t even know your mother and for some reason I can hear her in my own head. Well done!

  5. says

    Man, oh man, that Helen sounds like a royal pain!

    KIDDING! (Hi Helen! I totally love you because I love Matt and he is the King and that makes you the king’s mother and anyone who raises such a cool kid has to be number 1, A-Okay!)

    I want some apricot ice cream. I’ll wash my hands even!

  6. says

    Your mother and mine sounds like the same person. Hilarious. Ice cream and pies are the way to go with that kind of fruit overload! Now, if only zucchini was a good ice cream flavor. 😉

  7. J. Wade says

    oh yes, but you see, with Helen it is not the words, but “the look” Matt will know what I am talking about. I love you Helen!

  8. says

    Just found you through Astrid’s blog.
    Beautiful blog you have here!!

    Will be dropping by more often:-)

  9. says

    Once again, I am ashamed that I don’t have Perfect Scoop.
    I’m hoping that birds don’t get my ripping tomato, while I’m at work or a BB gun will be needed.

  10. says

    AAAAAAH! I love apricots. When can I come to visit?

    I see I have a lot of reading to catch up on here, so carry on Mateo :)

  11. says

    Delicious, I just made some Strawberry Ice Cream…but alas I had to pick my berries at the Grocery Store instead of the field!

  12. elarael says

    Mmm…my FAVorite is fresh apricot tart with one or two apricot kernals thrown in for super special flavor benefits! Lucky you…

  13. says

    Yummmm! That first picture is awesome. I made the very same recipe for apricot ice cream from David’s book and I’m planning to make another couple of batches soon to use up my stash of apricots :)

  14. says

    I’m so envious of your apricot tree. The ice cream looks delicious. I really, really need to get The Perfect Scoop!

  15. says

    I am traveling right now and it is soo Hot and that ice cream looks so good! Ice cream is definately one of my favorite things to make in the summer. BTW your phots are great…it is something I have been trying to working on!

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