Extraordinary apricots

Indulge in the rich, tangy-sweet flavor of the Blenheim apricot in juicy desserts, biscotti, salsas, and more

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That's when modern long-distance shipping began to require harder, more durable varieties, and the Blenheim ― so named because it was thought to have emerged from the gardens of England's Blenheim Palace ― began to fade from the market shelves, replaced by bigger, tougher, rosy-cheeked apricots that usually have about as much flavor as ice plant. Most of our remaining Blenheims are grown in Northern and central California, and you can still find them fresh there during their brief season in late June and early July, mainly at farmers' markets.

Or your can go straight to a farm itself. B&R Farms, a family operation in San Benito County, has been growing Blenheims since 1929, and owners Jim and Mari Rossi welcome visitors. Mari knows that if enough people taste this fragile fruit, it might hang on: "Once you get ahold of a Blenheim, it completely changes your recipe."

Most of B&R's apricots end up dried, their deliciousness made sturdier. But during harvest, you can buy them fresh from the farm's store if you call ahead. The second you step out of the car, you'll be wrapped in the perfume of warm, sweet, ripe apricots ... a prelude to the fruit itself.

Info:  B&R Farms (800/930-9168) sells Blenheims on-site. Whole Foods Markets offers Blenheims in California, Nevada, and Arizona. Or order them by mail from Andy's Orchard (from $50; 408/782-7600).

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