Eat, Drink, Savor: B&R Farms Introduces Blenheim’s Versatile Apricot



The Hollister Orchard offers apricot products for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

B&R Farms grew up High-quality Blenheim apricots for over 90 years, since Frank and Mary Rossi bought land from Hollister in July 1929. Operating one of the few Blenheim orchards in the world, this fifth-generation family business run by Jim and Mari Rossi, and their son, Brian, ship dried apricots and apricot products around the world.

“We exclusively cultivate deep-rooted Blenheims here,†said Mari. “We now have 50 acres of trees, of which 80% of the apricots are destined for our Japanese market and for export. Blenheim apricots are a heirloom crop and there is great demand for them.

Although the farm maintains a tradition of fine fruit cultivation, the Rossi are modernizing the operation to speed up the fruit harvest.

“We had 150 acres of apricots but we removed 100 acres of old trees,†she said. “Apricot trees only produce fruit for about 25 years and our saplings are now producing, so we focus on them. We can now harvest mechanically because of the way the trees are pruned and planted. We can plant more trees per acre and there is more fruit than we can process.

With an active online operation that has helped keep the farm going during COVID-19 shutdowns, B&R has been fortunate to expand its processed foods.

“It’s not just dried apricots,†said Mari. “We have created sweet and savory ranges, so you can use our apricot toppings on ice cream or in yogurt, but also on chicken, pork or fish as main dishes. You can use apricots in every dish of a meal. It’s about having fun in the kitchen. Blenheim is a specialty fruit from San Benito that is incomparable to other commercial apricots on the market.

B&R apricots are also used in craft beers, such as Brewery Twenty Five, Mad Pursuit, and Chillin n Grillin, as well as apricot wine produced by Casa de Fruta.

Their apricots are dried upon picking due to the thin skin and fragility of the fruit, but B&R hosts a “you choose†event every year during the harvest, when customers can go to the orchard and select their own fruit directly. on the tree.

Another annual offering is the Holidays on the Farm and Vintage Market event, which takes place this year from November 27 and continues on December 4, 5, 11 and 12. More than 20 suppliers will be in attendance, including Big Paw Oil, 831 Bake Shop, Hambly. Farm and the laughing peanut.

All B&R products are available at The Orchard Store, located at 5280 Fairview Rd in Hollister, which also sells other local food items, such as Foustman’s Sausage. B&R products are available at Windmill Market, San Benito Bene, and other grocery stores in the area.

B&R Farms Selected Apricot Products

Apricot scone mix (10.6 oz, $ 10.75) With the addition of heavy whipping cream, this mixture makes eight chewy scones. The results are softer and more flaky than a regular scone, almost more like a cornbread muffin. There is a generous serving of apricot chunks in each scone, making them perfect for eating on their own, hot out of the oven. They would be amazing with melted Irish butter on it and maybe a little Apricot Pinot Grigio Spread.

Apricot Chili Spread (10 oz, $ 6.00) This product is made from reconstituted dried apricots, so it’s a “spread†rather than “cannedâ€, but the taste is as crisp and fresh as the fruit of the tree. The heat here comes from the red pepper flakes and it works perfectly as an appetizer served over cream cheese and eaten with crackers. “We also sell apricot and pepper filling, which contains the same ingredients,†said Mari. “The consistency of the topping is a bit looser and mixes more easily when cooking.” The filling can be taken straight out of the bottle as a frosting on baked or grilled meats and is versatile enough to accompany chicken, ham, ribs or turkey. I’ve used both versions and like to mix them half and half with Dijon or whole grain mustard as a dip for the boneless wings. For me, the flexibility of the pepper sauce and spread makes them a kitchen staple to add an unusual touch to almost any dish.

Apricot Pinot Grigio Spread (7.4 oz, $ 8.00) One of their newer products, the Pinot Grigio Spread is more of a dessert product. Mari suggests pairing it with goat cheese, but I would have it for breakfast, spread on cookies or toast, or in the evening, on ice cream. The deep apricot flavor is not too sweet with an undercurrent of acidity of pinot grigio. Cooking with it would be easy as all the work is done in the jar, there is nothing more needed than to be added to a dish. I saw him replacing mint jelly with a leg of lamb or as a finishing sauce for steamed cod.

Apricot ginger teriyaki (14.8 oz, $ 8.50) Mari served it to me as a dip with cubed ham and chicken. Apricot flavor comes in the middle, balancing the bolder and deeper notes of ginger and teriyaki. Unsulphured apricots are used for this sauce, providing more prune or raisin flavor than the popping fruit of sulfur apricots and making this sauce more of a finishing sauce than a marinade. With a strong, dominant flavor, a little of this goes a long way. It would also work well as a stir-fry sauce, added at the end of the dish.

Dark Chocolate Bites (3.5 oz, $ 4.50) Produced in partnership with Marich Chocolates, these are bite-sized chopped apricots coated with Guittard dark chocolate. The bitterness of dark chocolate enhances the sweetness of apricots and, when served with red wine or port, they are irresistible.

Semi-soaked apricots in milk chocolate (8 oz, $ 14.00) I prefer milk chocolate apricots to dark chocolate. Milk chocolate pairs better with apricots, I think, making it less of a competition between flavors and more of a luxurious taste experience. You can also serve them with wine, but they will go well with hot chocolate or just for snacking on their own. Chopped, they would make a great addition to trail mix.

Apricot gel (12 oz, $ 4.50) Available only on the farm, this is a refreshing blend of non-dairy ice cream and mashed apricots. Ice cream provides a solid base that lets the abundant tart flavor of apricot shine through in a way other products only evoke. If you want to make your own smoothies, B&R also sells frozen apricot puree in two-pound packs for $ 5.00.

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