New from American Palate West: California Apricots

” … springs that were Milky Ways of blossoms, and summers rich and overripe with fruit.”–Wallace Stegner

Picked warm from a tree, an apricot opens into halves as easily as if it came with a dotted line down its center. The seed infuses the core with a hint of almond; the fruit carries the scent of citrus and jasmine; and it tastes, some say, like manna from heaven.

Drying apricots. Courtesy Robin Chapman.

In California Apricots: Lost Orchards of Silicon Valley, local author Robin Chapman takes the reader home to a time when the Santa Clara Valley was the largest apricot producer in the world. From the Spaniards who first planted apricots in the Mission Santa Clara gardens to the post–World War II families who built homes among subdivided orchards, Robin recalls days “filled with sweet-tasting apricots in the summer and canned apricot jam offseason” and chronicles how the “richness of technology replaced the richness of the apricot orchards” until, “instead of apricots coming off the trees, we have iPhones.”

Two small boys enjoy a summer snack in an apricot drying yard in Santa Clara Valley. Courtesy Los Altos History Museum.

Meet Robin at the Los Altos Library tomorrow evening for a special presentation on Silicon Valley’s Lost Orchards followed by a book signing and reception at the Los Altos History Museum. More details here.

Also join Robin for these upcoming author events:

  • Saturday, June 15, 3-5pm Barnes & Noble, Almaden
  • Saturday, June 22, 2-4pm Barnes & Noble, Gilroy
  • Saturday, July 6, 10am Andy’s Orchard, Morgan Hill
  • Sunday, July 14, Sunnyvale Heritage Museum Book Event
  • Saturday July 20, Barnes & Noble, Eastridge, San Jose
  • Saturday, July 27, Barnes & Noble, Stevens Creek, San Jose
  • Tuesday, July 30, 7:30pm Kepler’s, Menlo Park


California Apricots: The Lost Orchards of Silicon Valley by Robin Chapman on display at Museum Store Association event. Courtesy Robin Chapman.

As Craig MacDonald writes in his review of California Apricots: “Robin has lovingly ‘canned’ the unsung history of Santa Clara Valley’s apricots so present and future generations will understand and appreciate their significance, not only to the area but to the country and World.” Read MacDonald’s full review in See California or follow these links to reviews in the Los Altos Town Crier and San Jose Mercury.

California Apricots: The Lost Orchards of Silicon Valley by Robin Chapman

California Apricots: The Lost Orchards of Silicon Valley by Robin Chapman is available from the History Press and Santa Clara Valley retailers, including Andy’s Orchard, Draeger’s Market, C.J. Olson Cherries, and the Los Altos History Museum.

Share your apricot memories and recipes by visiting Robin’s Facebook page.

Related Posts:

Interview with Sherry Monahan, Author of California Vines, Wines & Pioneers

“Oranges for Health! California for Wealth!”–Sunkist

Share Your Sacramento Food Stories

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