Fruit of the Month: Black Pearl Aprium and Pearl White Nectarines

Black Velvet Apriums —
Black Velvet Apriums have a deep purple (almost black) skin. The interior of this fruit is a bright golden color with a super sweet, highly concentrated flavor. The warm late Spring and early Summer weather in California produces an intense flavor in these fruits that is reminiscent of apricot preserves.


They are a cross, as you might expect, between apricots and plums. The cross is different from Pluots in that it has 50% plum and 50% apricot. They are produced only by one grower in Kingsburg, California.

Black Velvet Apriums are best eaten out of hand. They are also delicious in compotes, jams and over ice cream. Or you may try them with mild fresh cheeses such as chevre or ricotta.
Storage: Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, wash and let sit until they come to room temperature for best flavor. Black Velvet Apriums may bruise easily when ripe, so please handle with care.

Black Velvet Apriums with Ginger Sauce over Cake
(Recipe makes a single serving)

Ingredients:
Desired amount of fresh Black Velvet Aprium slices
1 bakery-made Angel Food or Sponge Cake
Whipped Cream or Ice Cream (optional, but always so good)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 inches of ginger root, rough chopped
Preparation:
In a small saute pan, combine the sugar, water and ginger. Bring to a slow simmer over moderate heat, allowing the ginger to cook into the syrup. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Allow to steep for 15 minutes, then strain the ginger and discard. Refrigerate until cool. (Makes 1/4 cup. Will keep in refrigerator up to 4 weeks.)
Mix sliced Apriums with 3 tablespoons syrup, and spoon on top of slices of cake. Top generously with
whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Pearl White Nectarines —
White nectarines tend to have paler skin than their yellow cousins, but have the same blush, softness and overall look as a yellow nectarine. The real difference is that they have a white or champagne-colored flesh instead of the standard yellow shade. White nectarines were not commercially cultivated in substantial numbers until the 1980′s because they were considered to be more delicate than yellow nectarines and had a much shorter growing season. Modern breeding has made white nectarines a bit more resilient and has given them a longer growing season.
White nectarines have a soft nectarine flavor, but are much more floral tasting than yellow varieties. This translates to a delicacy in their flavor that is notable when you eat the nectarine on its own, as well as in a cobbler or a pie.
Ripening & Storage: Fresh nectarines can be kept at room temperature for 3 to 4 days, depending on how ripe they are when acquired. Be sure there is enough space between the nectarines to allow for proper air circulation. Refrigerate ripe fruit in a plastic bag for no more than a day or two.
Allow to come to room temperature before eating for maximum sweetness and fullest flavor.

Roasted Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Nectarines
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
2 medium to large nectarines, ripe but firm
1-1/2 cups dessert wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 chicken breast halves, on bone, with skin
Preparation:
Halve nectarines by cutting a slit along the seam, all the way to the pit. Twist to release. Pop out the pit with your knife tip. With the cut side down, cut each half into 5 slices lengthwise. Put slices in a shallow bowl, add wine. Allow to marinate 1/2 hour. Preheat oven to 500°. Loosen the chicken skin. Season exterior with salt and pepper. Place 4 nectarine slices between the skin and the breast, covering the slices with the skin and securing with toothpicks. (You will have nectarine slices left over.) Reserve the marinade. Put breasts on a foil-covered sheet pan, drizzle a tablespoon of wine marinade over each, and bake 25 to 30 minutes until temperature at the thickest part reads 160°. Move to platter and keep warm. Add left over slices to marinade, reduce over medium heat for a light, syrupy glaze, about 15 minutes. Pour over breasts just before serving.

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