Apricots hit their peak and they're perfect for making ice cream

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Anya Candycots from Andy's Orchard originated in Central Asia. Photo by Gillian Ferguson/KCRW

Run by brother and sister James Marumoto and Elaine Marumoto Perez, Kansha Creamery sits on the border of Torrance and Gardena. Marumoto-Perez joins market correspondent Gillian Ferguson in Santa Monica, where she explains that all of the ice cream at Kansha, the Japanese word for gratitude, is simple. Vanilla, green tea, and Mr. Universal, made with caramel and oatmeal, are constants on the menu, which rotates weekly between six and 12 flavors.

Currently, the duo is using Robada apricots from Arnett Farms for a seasonal flavor. The most recent batch also has dried apricots sprinkled in. After the short season, they'll move on to Arnett's peaches. 

At Kansha, 75% of each pint sale is donated to charity. Taking suggestions from customers on issues that matter to them, Kansha is currently donating to Miry's List, an organization that supports refugees arriving in the United States. Marumoto-Perez estimates that the shop has raised close to half a million dollars.

If you arrive early enough at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, you can sample a variety of apricots from Andy's Orchard, located in Morgan Hill. Before it was Silicon Valley, that area of Northern California was known as the Valley of Heart's Delight. It was the premier apricot-growing region and where pomologist David Karp has spent two decades working with the farm. 

Karp describes the difference between conventional apricots and ones that are brought directly to market. "The majority of grocery store apricots are not worth eating. They tend to be pasty, sour, and mealy. At it's best, the apricot is sweet with good counterbalancing acidity, exquisitely aromatic, and with a succulent flavor that reminds you of twinkling Middle Eastern fountains," Karp says. 

Conditions for growing a perfect apricot include variety, growing area, horticultural practices, ripeness at harvest, and post-harvest treatment. If any of those factors are amiss, the product isn't the same.