When my family first purchased our original vineyard in 1995, along the northern boundary ran a line of stunning heritage apricot trees. We suspect they were the last remaining trees from a large stone fruit orchard planted somewhere around the end of WW2 by the de Bettencorp family. The variety however, we were never able to confirm but we thought perhaps they were Moorepark.
These remaining trees were stunning and prolific producers! Producing large juicy fruit bursting with flavour and intensely 'apricoty' in colour. I have many fond memories spending the summers under these trees picking with my parents and grandparents - filling up the chest freezer with endless containers.
Sadly, since we sold the original site, the new owners removed the trees, However Dad, who has particularly green fingers, was able to take several cuttings, cultivated them and we now have the beginnings of a new apricot orchard at our vineyard in the terraces of the Estate.
So, what better way to enjoy a wintery Central Otago evening than with a slice of heritage apricot pie and a nice dollop of vanilla ice cream! Served with a delicious Pisa Range Estate Riesling of course!
If you do ever have a glut of apricots one of the best ways to preserve them is to simply pop them in a freezer bag or container suitable for freezing, sprinkle a bit of sugar over the top and pop them in the freezer. They last for ages and are perfect when unexpected visitors pop in and you need to whip up a quick dessert.
Here is my mother's recipe for Heritage Apricot Pie, I hope you enjoy!
Heritage Apricot Pie
1-2 cups of Central Otago Apricots
Apricot jam or marmalade
Grease your pie dish with butter or butter-alternative and line the pie dish with sweet short-crust pastry. Lay your apricots on top alternating cut-side down, cut side up until your dish is completely covered. Only use one layer of apricots as the apricots do release quite a bit of juice when the cook which can make your pastry soggy.
Cut another sheet of pastry into strips and lay across your pie dish in a lattice design or mix it up and do whatever takes your fancy! Warm a tablespoon of the jam and brush over the top of the pasty, finishing off with a sprinkling of sugar.
Pop into the oven and bake for 20-25mins or until your pastry is cooked.
Serve hot with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream, yoghurt or drizzle of cream.