You've made your yearly batch of apricot jam (You have, haven't you? Don't count on the local crop being any good this year with our crazy weather-grab the California ones when you see them, or you may be apricot jam-less this year. I don't want you to be apricot jam-less because you'll just be asking for some of mine. The apricots I bought were exceptionally nice-so hurry!) and now you are looking at a pile of peels wondering if they can be put to use anywhere besides the compost pile.
Why Yes, you can put those apricot peels to good use. Do you like candy? Of course you do, you wouldn't be reading this blog if you didn't. How about fruit puree? Good, keep reading.
Take your apricot peels and place them in a pot with 1/4 cup water and a tablespoon of lemon juice for each quart of peel. Cover, bring to a boil then reduce to a slow simmer. Cook until quite soft-about 15 minutes. At this point, decide what you wish to make-candy, or puree.
Strain the peels through a jelly bag (or a cheese cloth colander over a bowl) several hours. Measure 2 parts sugar to 1 part juice and bring to a boil slowly in a large pot, whisking until the sugar is dissolved. Cook until the mixture sticks to a spoon (well beyond the jelling point. I like to tell people it should almost smell like a cross between gelatine, or something burning off the hob that previously spilled. It should smell really strongly of burning, without actually burning. I know, that's vague. Cook it until it sticks to the spoon rather than sheeting, and you'll be good, or just pull it off the heat at the first whiff of burning.
Pour the mixture into a parchment lined 8x8 pan. Cool completely at room temperature, then chill, uncovered in the fridge overnight. Next day, cut out your candy-I use the centre of a donut cutter, but a thimble works too if you're trying to make gumdrops. Return the candy to the fridge on a parchment lined plate. Chill overnight again. Next day, roll in sugar and return to the fridge on plate again for several hours. Give candy another roll in the sugar, and then pack between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container. Store in fridge.
For the puree:
Run the peels through a food mill. Pack into freezer containers leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use for chiffon pies, jelly moulds, or sorbets.