[Sca-cooks] Apricot Paste: Was Cotignac

Elise Fleming alysk at ix.netcom.com
Mon Oct 9 15:53:29 PDT 2006

Hi, all.  Lots of chat about making fruit pastes, so here is a recipe that
worked pretty well.  I found that substituting one fruit for another wasn’t
exactly a one-to-one ratio.  This recipe worked for apricots but didn’t
work well for apples.  Maybe I should try “raspes” next time??

SWEET-MEATS OF MY LADY WINDEBANKS, Sir Kenelm Digby, The Closet of Sir
Kenelm Digby Opened, 3rd edition, 1677

She maketh a past of Apricocks (which is both very beautiful and clear, and
tasteth most quick of the fruit) thus.  Take six pound of pared and sliced
Apricocks, put them in a high pot, which stop close, and set it in a kettle
of boiling water, till you perceive the flesh is all become a uniform pulp;
then put it out into your preserving pan or possenet, and boil it gently
till it be grown thick, stirring it carefully all the while.  Then put two
pound of pure Sugar to it, and mingle it well, and let it boil gently, till
you see the matter come to such a thickness and solidity, that it will not
stick to a plate.  Then make it up into what form you will.  The like you
may do with Raspes or Currants.

Modernized recipe from 'Banquetting Stuffe' edited by C. Anne Wilson,
chapter 4, Rare Conceits and Strange Delightes by Peter Brears.  (Edinburgh
University Press, Edinburgh, 1986, ISBN 0 7486 0103 1)

8 oz (225 g) (when prepared) peeled and stoned apricots
3 oz (75 g) sugar (Alys: 1/2 cup; 1 lb. apricots to 1/3 lb. sugar)

Place the apricots in a heatproof jar, seal the top with a piece of cooking
foil, and stand in a covered saucepan of boiling water for an hour.  Pour
the apricots into a small saucepan and gently boil, stirring continuously
until the paste is extremely thick; then add the sugar and continue
stirring.  When it is so thick that it has to be spread across the bottom
of the pan with a spoon, it may be turned on to a lightly greased plate,
worked into a shallow square block, and allowed to cool.  It has a deep
orange colour, and is every bit as good today as Sir Kenelm found it three
centuries ago.

Alys's revision:  (1 lb. apricots to 1/3 lb. sugar.   Ten apricots (2-2
1/2") are slightly under one pound when peeled and stoned.)

Slice the apricots, place in cooking container (Corningware 1 3/4 quart pan
holds a little over 2 lbs. of apricots).  Seal with foil and rubber band
for extra security.  Place in large pot, or larger Corningware container. 
If you put a lid on the outer container you needn't top it off with boiling
water as quickly.  Add boiling water and set on burner at simmer for a good
two hours.  The apricots should have fallen into a mush by then.

To peel apricots easily, place them in boiling water for about two minutes
and then remove them.  The skins should peel off easily with a knife or
your fingers.  If you let them stay in the boiling water too long they
begin to cook and get mushy under the skin.  You can also just slice the
apricots without peeling them.  After they have cooked for two or more
hours, puree them in a blender.  It is best to use a thick pan for cooking
the pureed apricots and sugar.  If you simmer them on a low heat you need
not stir them continuously until the mixture begins to thicken and erupt
into "burps."  This "cooking down" process can take 4 hours or so depending
on the amount of apricots you use and the temperature of the heat.  You
will need to stir the mixture more and more as it gets thicker.  The
apricots are done when you can drag your spoon through the mixture and it
leaves a trail.  It should also be pulling away from the sides of the pan
at this time.

While this recipe doesn't call for a sugar syrup, you can make one by
taking an amount of sugar, wetting it enough to dissolve the sugar, and
heating it to hard crack stage.  Add it to the apricots, stirring as you
add it.  Then cook the mixture down over low heat until you can make a
trail with your spoon.  Pour into shallow, buttered pans and allow to cool.
You can cut them into squares or into shapes using small cookie or canapé
cutters.  Store between waxed paper or parchment paper.   With proper
storage they will keep for a year or so.

Alys Katharine, apricot lover

Elise Fleming
alysk at ix.netcom.com

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