This week we got another 40 lbs of Red Cloud apricots from Terra Firma, as well as 40 lbs of dry-farmed Royal Blenheim apricots from Mercy Wong in Vacaville. It was way too much fruit to use, but the always superior Blenheim’s season is so short, I have vowed to buy everything that comes my way (I hate it when a fruit goes out of season before I feel I’ve really celebrated it fully.) So far I’ve done apricot danishes, apricot muffins, apricot caramel sauce, apricots in puff pastry, apricots baked in Marsala, apricot ice cream, and a big vat of apricot jam. Of course there’s another list of things to do now we’re really in the thick of it.
Wonderfully, inside each apricot is the noyau — a seed inside of the pit of all stone fruits, including plums, peaches, and cherries. The noyau inside apricots and peaches looks almost identical to an almond, and is indeed the source of bitter almond flavor. Amaretti, the fantastic Italian cookies generally thought to be almond, are made entirely from apricot noyaux. (Also made from noyaux is arsenic; I love the old stories where Sherlock Holmes or some other detective sniffs the glass beside the dead person’s hand and confirms “the aroma of almonds… yes, it was murder…”)
To cook with noyaux at home, the biggest challenge is to collect enough to actually make something. What I recommend is that you keep a tub of pits in the refrigerator, adding to the tub as you eat from your fruit bowl, extracting the noyaux and freezing them every week or so. Label the seeds in the freezer so no one thinks they’re almonds. Kept frozen, noyaux will be good for many months — plenty of time to store up for a noyau dessert. When you have a cup or so, grind them coarsely and steep in the custard for a 2qt batch of ice cream or custard sauce. Substitute for the almonds, omitting the almond extract, for a batch of amaretti. Or get creative. Drop by the restaurant and I’ll be happy to confer.