Have you ever gone to the grocery and stumbled upon a food that is completely new to you?
Well, I have. In fact, one of my favorite things to do it to find some magnificent new food, buy it, and then figure out a way to turn it into something delicious! This weekend, I got lucky. While perusing the produce section at Costco, I ran into my friend (and also the produce manager!) who asked if I had seen the apriums.
"The what?" I responded, intrigued.
"Apriums," he said, "like a cross between an apricot and a plum."
Well naturally, I had to go check it out. And indeed, the apriums were just as described! They looked like a slightly overlarge apricot -- more plum-sized -- but still with the light-orange, fuzzy skin of an apricot.
Being priced at about three bucks for a huge tray of them, they were the clear choice for my fruit purchase. I could not wait to figure out a cool way to prepare them!
After getting home, I wanted to do a little research. First, I had to eat one. To me, they taste a bit like a plum, but a have a texture closer to an apricot. In fact, it reminded me a little bit of the taste of a white peach. This isn't too surprising -- all of these fruits are members of the stone fruit family. Stone fruits all have a central "pit," or large inedible seed in the center. Expert botanists can create hybrid fruits by crossing one stone fruit with another. The resulting mixed-characteristic fruit is called an interspecific.
As much as I love gardening, the process of creating an interspecific fruit sounds way beyond my plant-cultivating expertise. It can take years to create one of these fruits, and the whole process is done through skilled hand-pollination. I think, for now, I'll stick to buying apriums from the store, and appreciating the work of those creative botanists who decided to create interspecific fruits in the first place.
So, now I needed to decide how I wanted to prepare these tasty little fruits. Obviously I could just eat them all raw, but that would be taking the easy way out. I thought about grilling them. I briefly considered creating a melon/cucumber/aprium salad. Then, however, my eyes landed on the 3 pounds of strawberries I had purchased, and I decided what I really wanted was a warm dessert. So, that's just what I made.
First, I washed my apriums and strawberries. Next, I sliced them into small pieces. I used about a cup and a half of aprium slices and about a third of a cup of sliced strawberries.
I added a tablespoon of flour and a tablespoon of regular old sugar. I stirred the fruit to get these ingredients combined, and then divided the fruit between three small ramekins. You may notice this is a lot less sugar than most fruit cobblers, pies, etc., call for. When cooking with a really delicious fresh fruit, I prefer to let the fruit's natural sweetness take center stage. Sometimes, this means the final product has a thinner "juice," rather than a thick, sugary glaze, but it still tastes delicious and truly features the fruits' natural flavors.
For the crumble topping, I combined 1/2 a cup of rolled oats, 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. I then drizzled about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over the mixture and stirred thoroughly. Finally, I spooned this crumble topping on top of the fruit in each ramekin.
After a quick 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven, these special treats came out just beautiful!
Let these cool at least 10 minutes before digging in -- they get really hot. My husband and I really enjoyed these little treats, and we both agreed, it would be excellent as a topping for vanilla ice cream.
Here's the TL;DR version if you just want the recipe!
Baked Aprium and Strawberry Treat
For the fruit part:
1.5 cups sliced apriums
1/3 cup sliced strawberries
1 Tbsp flour (I used wheat, but you could use an alternative like oat or almond)
1 Tbsp sugar
For the topping:
1/2 cup rolled oats (can use gluten free, if desired)
3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp plant-based oil of your choice
First, mix the fruit with the flour and sugar. Spritz the bottom of ceramic or glass ramekins with non-stick spray (or brush with a tiny bit of oil) to prevent sticking. It's ok to use a small 8x8 glass baking dish if you prefer. Add the fruit mixture to the ramekins or baking dish.
For the topping, combine all ingredients and stir thoroughly. Spoon atop the fruit mixture. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes, and enjoy! You can eat this by itself, or use as a topping for ice cream, or even angel-food cake. It's a versatile treat.
What do you think? Do you have a favorite way to cook with apriums?