Last night, while preparing an apricot crumble, I thought of my Mom. I saw my Mom doing the same thing, with apricots from the same tree, cooking in the same kitchen.
It was always a guess if our apricot tree would produce any fruit during the season. If it did, she would protect as many as she could. I remember her hanging CDs in the tree and putting little nets around clusters of the fruit to try and save them from the birds. “Darn birds, they got another one.” “Why don’t they eat the WHOLE thing – instead of taking just a bite and ruining it?" I now find myself repeating her exact words.
I had called my sister for Mom’s recipe but she did not keep one. I’ve made quite a few of these crumbles over the past weeks and they just don’t turn out the same – why is that? My crumble burned last night. I sort of forgot about it as the tears and grief hit me so hard. I really miss her.
Now for a history lesson:
The apricot is one of California’s prized specialty crops. In fact, California produces a remarkable 95+% of all the apricots grown in the United States.
In the 18th century, Spanish explorers introduced apricots to the New World. California inherited the golden blush fruit planted in the gardens of Spanish missions. In 1792, the first major production of California apricots was recorded.
By 1920, California proudly claimed a flourishing apricot industry located in the Santa Clara Valley, an area south of San Francisco also known for peaches, plums and cherries. Only fifteen years later, 2,737 California apricot growers farmed a total of 18,631 acres in the valley alone. After World War II, the valley once known for fruit farming was fast becoming an area known for a growing computer industry and the development of the “Silicon Valley.” Consequently by the end of the century, California’s apricot orchards had been relocated to the San Joaquin Valley where they are predominately found today. (thanks apricotproducers.com)