The apricot has been the symbol of the Armenian nation and victory for centuries. Armenians currently cultivate around fifty apricot varieties, which are typically harvested from the middle of June until the end of August. In the Middle Ages, Armenian kings and knights would go to battle wearing apricot-colored ornaments called “tsirani.” One of the three colors of the tri-color Armenian flag is also the color of the apricot. Apricots are listed as one of the “healthiest foods” in the world, says George Mateljan, Founder of the World’s Healthiest Foods website. The California apricot, one of nature’s nutritional powerhouses, not only has a rich history, California is the leader of apricot production in the United States. Over 300 growers in California, covering 17,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley, along with many heritage orchards in the San Francisco Bay Area, produce over 85% of the apricots grown in the United States.
Celebrate the holidays with this traditional Stöllen by Lisa Prince Newman, author of the bestselling cookbook/memoir For the Love of Apricots: Recipes & Memories of the Santa Clara Valley, now in its second edition. Lisa’s family moved to the Santa Clara Valley in the 1960s where they settled in Saratoga on a fruit orchard property.
For the Love of Apricots blends historic photos and images of California’s apricot orchards, from today and not so long ago, when orchards covered much of the Santa Clara Valley landscape. The cookbook’s more than 60 recipes range from breakfast to desserts and cocktails, using apricots in every form.
“I’ve loved apricots all my life,” says Lisa. “They color my memories of growing up in the Santa Clara Valley. In the 1960s, orchards extended in every direction, and as a child, I assumed they always would. Of course, this area is now known as Silicon Valley, the world’s greatest engine of innovative technologies. Not long ago, it was a magical landscape known as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight.”
“Each Christmas, my mother made Stöllen for our family, and served it sliced, toasted, and buttered while we opened presents. Fresh apricot jam is a perfect accompaniment.* I like the subtle taste of cardamom in this recipe, which reminds me of when I lived in Norway where it is a traditional spice,” adds Lisa.