The apricot harvest is here and in spite of an early frost, a hailstorm and gale force winds, our trees have produced more fruit than we can handle. We are now at the point of giving away boxes of the fabulous fruit to anyone who visits us or passes by on the road!
I made a batch of apricot jam first thing in the morning, by adding lemon juice and sugar to the crushed fruit and boiling until thick. By noon, I was preparing several crates of the fruit for drying. The apricot doesn't need to be peeled - thank goodness-but has to be cut in half, pitted, dipped in a water and sodium sulphite solution (a preservative which retains the orange colour and the vitamin content) before being laid out to dry on our wire mesh pergola. After three consecutive days of dry, sunny weather, the apricots will be ready to be brought in and stored in plastic containers.
After lunch and a brief siesta, the late afternoon activity was preserving apricot halves with syrup and Hesperidina, a unique aperitif. This liqueur is made from bitter orange peel, sugar, alcohol and herbs, and has been a popular Argentine drink since 1864 when Melville Sewell Bagley
first introduced the product in Buenos Aires. It has been touted as a digestive aid, and it is true that the flavonoids in citrus fruit peel and membrane are soothing to the stomach. Whether medicinal in value or not, Hesperidina adds a special zesty flavour to my apricot preserves, which are best served with a slice of almond pound cake.
The rest of my apricot windfall was used to make a sorbet. Pureed fruit, sweetened and frozen for a few hours, becomes a refreshing dessert or palate-cleanser between courses. We serve this at the end of a lamb chop meal. A bottle of Hesperidina sells for 11.85 pesos at Vea supermarket.