Sweet Apricot Kernels

Move over California, with your water-hungry almonds. 4.5 litres of water to grow one almond? Ridiculous! We have apricots with sweet kernels here in the north, that can grow in the shrub steppe off of a bit of rain and a snowdrift. Are they currently food safe? No. There are issues with poisons in bitter pits and the potential of toxic amygdalin in sweet ones.

These ones are plump and sweet. Sure, most apricot kernels are bitter (as my friends point out below), but I take heart, because there  is an apricot breeder in the valley working on this right now. As you can see above, he has shared his initial success. The world can be remade one seed at a time. Next, some close testing and, I’m sure, a lot of fine tuning, but we’re on an inspiring path here.

For Apricots, Spring Starts Early and Lasts All Year

Life on the temperate earth goes around in circles, the same way as the earth goes around the sun. In this dance, spring is the kind of thing that requires Autumn leaves. Without them, it’s a risky proposition. Here is how it begins … in August.

cots

Tilton Apricots, Very Over Ripe, August 29, 2012

What is intriguing here (other than the sweetness of those fruits, mmmmmmm) is that a tree consists of branches (supported by roots), with leaves that cover (loosely) fruits, which keep a kernel moist and protected while it grows.

The story never changes. Here is what it looks like a few days after snow melt under an apricot tree that goes relatively unpicked year after year. Well, without the leaves.

P1230619A Carpet of Apricot Kernels, Bahati U-Pick Farm, Keremeos

One of them is blushing (Hint: under the cedar sprig).

Autumn leaves delay the drying out that comes with wind — the same wind that blows the Autumn leaves away. I’ll say this much: where apricots came from, there couldn’t have been much wind. Either that, or Keremeos (in the Similkameen Valley) is one of the world’s great wind engines. Both, I’d say. Here’s a closer look at those kernels…

P1230618Apricot Seed Trying to Bury Itself 

It has only a few days to do it. The steps are: 1. months of cold trigger the seed, 2. water from the snow soaks into the kernel, 3. which swells and, 4. cracks the hull, and 5. has just a few days to find the centre of the earth before it dries out. Leaf cover would help, a lot.

This is something I’ve never witnessed before, because most apricots get picked and carted away. Even when they fall, though, thousands of kernels don’t make it. Here’s one that looks like it might make it, especially if it rains or snows a bit in the mornings to keep things moist without those leaves…

P1230629Apricot, Rooting

It must have popped out of its shell with such force that it sent the pieces flying.

What a beautiful thing! For thirty-one years, I pruned this tree at blossom time. Showing up this year six weeks early was well worth it! And what is it trying to do? Why, this:

cotsclose