Freezer recipe plus warning of Prunus diseases
I thought last year’s apricot haul was a good one and it was absolutely nothing on this year’s harvest, filling a certain supermarket’s bag for life three-quarters full!
My tree, Kioto, was a trial plant given to me from Lubera and I really doubted whether it would fruit this far north (Gateshead).
Therefore, I challenge anyone who says they don’t like apricots to try growing their own.
Kioto especially is like a different fruit altogether and looks so pretty, with pink spring blossom, followed by new red-tipped leaf growth and the red/orange furry fruits in late July/August.
For more information on self-fertile apricots, ideal for smaller gardens, visit Lubera’s UK website.
Freezing apricot puree
The only trouble is, they’re a ‘glut crop’ and despite being absolutely delicious – nothing like the mealy, tasteless offerings you buy in the supermarket – you’ll struggle to eat them all.
Even in the fridge, if they’re touching another fruit, there’s a tendency for them to bruise and start to rot.
Instead of giving most of them away, or turning them into jam (I’m not a fan of very sugary preserves), I was determined to find an easy way to store them for the winter.
It’s the freezer that came up trumps and after a bit of research, you can easily turn them into a chunky puree that freezes well for four months or so and you can use with yoghurt, ice-cream or in cakes and desserts.
- Simply quarter the fruit and discard the stones and any rotten or green bits (no need to skin them), placing in a large preserving pan or stockpot in a weak vinegar solution (one part vinegar to three parts water). This will kill off any bacteria on the skins.
- Once the fruit is prepared, rinse very thoroughly. Return to a clean pan and coat quarters in lemon juice so they don’t go brown.
- Add sugar to taste and a splash of orange juice, then cook until the smallest chunks have turned to mush. The bigger chunks should still have some ‘bite’.
- Remove from the heat, cover the pan and let cool overnight. The residual heat will cook through the larger chunks.
- The next day, bag up into ziplock-style freezer bags and pop into the freezer.
Prunus disease alert
Now the bad news – the tree’s branches are exuding an amber-like gum.
Unsure of what it is, I consulted the RHS, which says ‘gum production (gummosis) from the bark of Prunus species is actually quite common, and in the absence of dead, sunken bark is likely to have resulted from causes other than bacterial canker, for example, physical damage or environmental stresses.’
This would figure, having had to cope with extreme cold then hot, dry temperatures, as the tree is otherwise healthy.
However, if your Prunus (apricot, plum, cherry, etc) is exuding gum and has sunken bark or ‘shot holes’ in the leaves, it could be bacterial canker – see my post here.
Even worse, there is a new threat of Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni, which is notifiable and has been found by Defra on imported plant material, although is not yet established in the UK.
Any suspected cases should be reported to The Animal and Plant Health Agency, Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate, telephone: 01904 405 138 or email: email@example.com.