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The Coveted Blenheim Apricot is Disappearing

Blenheim apricots are the most coveted of the apricot varieties and are fast disappearing. They were brought to California from England in the 1880’s and were grown mostly in the Sacramento and Santa Clara valleys. They have great apricot flavor but are not good travelers and are usually only found at farmers markets. Many growers have abandoned the Blenheim in favor of varieties that are grown for their long shelf life and ability to travel long distances.  There are only a few growers left in California and Earl’s is fortunate to now be carrying Dwelley Blenheim apricots, a third generation farm, from Brentwood, California.

This small sized heirloom variety has a beautiful rose blush over a golden background. One of the key characteristics of the Blenheim is their green shoulders. Don’t shy away from the green tinge, as the fruit will have good flavor even if the fruit does not achieve full color.  Cut open the Blenheim and you are rewarded by a deep orange flesh.  A quick bite reveals a tangy flavor that is balanced out by the high sugar content.

Dwelley Blenheim Apricots (1)

Stone Fruit will taste sweeter at the bottom of the fruit because the sugars become more concentrated as they grow to maturity hanging straight down from the tree.

How to choose a Blenheim Apricot:

Apricots ripen from the inside out, similar to a pear. Test the ripeness by applying gentle pressure with the pads of your fingers. If the fruit gives slightly it is ready to eat. Blenheim apricots are very delicate and bruise easily so be sure to handle them with care.

Please join us in supporting the California growers that are keeping this wonderful variety alive. The Blenheim Apricot is on the Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, foods facing extinction. Take this opportunity to enjoy eating the rare juicy Blenheims out of hand and buy a little extra to preserve them. Chefs love them to make jams and they are excellent for canning.  The season is only two weeks long.

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