The apricot inspires superstitions and scrumptious desserts
Apricots are native to parts of Asia and have been cultivated there since antiquity. They’re hugely popular in Middle Eastern countries, with Turkey and Iran being the world’s largest producers of the fruit. Spanish missionaries are credited with introducing the apricot to California, which is the leading state of apricot production within the United States, according to agricultural experts.
Apricots are the national fruit of Armenia, while the Chinese associate the fruit with education and medicine. Conversely, U.S. Marines consider apricots extremely bad luck to eat or possess. Using the name is even unlucky, so Marines call them “cots” or “A-fruit.” Officially, the superstition began in World War II. Many of the assault amphibious vehicles that were hopping around the islands of the Pacific would carry the fruit, as it often was found in rations, according to wearethemighty.com. All such vehicles that were destroyed with their crew members inside were said to have a single piece of cargo in common — apricots, according to the military media and entertainment site.
Whether you love or fear the fruit, this apricot and milk pudding recipe is a delicious dessert.
1 pound dried apricots or Amardeen
4 cups water, or enough to cover
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup water (optional)
2 teaspoons orange flower water
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
Place the apricots in a bowl, cover with water and let stand overnight. The next day, transfer the apricots and their soaking water to a saucepan, adding water if necessary to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the apricots are very soft, about 30 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a food processor and purée. Return the purée to the pan and bring back to a simmer. Stir in 1 cup of sugar and cornstarch (if using). Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2-3 minutes.
Transfer to 6 individual serving bowls, cover and refrigerate.
At serving time, whip the cream with the 2 remaining tablespoons of sugar until soft peaks form and then beat in the orange flower water until the peaks are at medium stiffness. Fold in the orange zest. Place a dollop on each serving and top with pistachios.
Phil Newton is a Galveston baker/cook. He’s the owner/operator of Stiglich Corner with partner Cindy Roberts.