Shoppers who have never tried a Blenheim apricot before might be inclined to pass them by, thinking they look too mottled or bruised; they are very delicate and difficult to pack and transport. Though the trees once thrived in the Santa Clara Valley, the Blenheim (also known as Royal or Royal Blenheim) has become commercially unpopular and pushed out by development. The SF Chronicle described it as "a vanishing fruit, hammered by foreign competition and its own finicky nature," and it has been added to Slow Food's Ark of Taste, a list of endangered foods. Fortunately, Blenheim apricots can still be found in some California farmers' markets in June and July.
The first time we tried a Blenheim, it was like tasting an apricot for the first time. Never huge fans of apricots, these completely changed our opinion with their vivid, fragrant balance of sweet and tart and velvety texture. We prefer not to do too much to Blenheim apricots, letting them shine in simple preparations like galettes (our favorite recipe comes from Chez Panisse Fruit). They are also great candidates for drying and canning. Those who don't have access to fresh Blenheims can enjoy them in jam from We Love Jam.
(Images: Gregory Han and Emily Ho)