Friday, July 1, 2011

Jammin' Apricots Part 1

A week ago I was out running errands and saw an elderly gentleman scraping smooshed apricots off the sidewalk with a snow shovel. "Ah ha!" I thought, "There's someone with too many apricots on his hands." Sure enough, when I stopped and asked if he had plans for all of those apricots he said no, he'd eaten too many and I was welcome to pick as many as I liked. He told me the lower branches had been picked clean and I would need a ladder... and that I could not hold him liable should I fall off the ladder or hurt myself in any other way while on his property. Got it. The next morning M & I picked about 18 pounds of Queen Anne Cherry-sized apricots, leaving plenty for the next indemnified soul with a ladder.

a sink full of apricots
gift jars of jam
The fruit was tasty but not very juicy at all. We unearthed the canning supplies (we still haven't unpacked all those boxes from the move), grabbed the Ball Blue Book and went to it.

Two days later we had 36 pints of Apricot Jam and 5 pints of preserves.

gear shot
That'll take a little time out of your weekend. It helps that neither of us minds this kind of work and look forward with delight to the end product: rows of little jars filled with apricot-y goodness. When you're doing multiple batches like this you drop into a pleasant rhythm --pit, chop, measure, boil, fill jars, set the timer, clean up, start all over again -- punctuated by the occasional 'plink' as the lids seal on the cooling jars. We'll listen to music and chat, daydreaming out loud about the next Easy Jam Tart, which we think is elevated to sublime by the use of homemade apricot jam. Of course, a little practice together and the right canning gear also make the experience enjoyable.

Gear Notes: Along with the magnetic jar lid wand, a jelly funnel (both in blue here) and a no. 26 Le Creuset round French Oven (also blue, since you asked), an extremely handy *snerk* piece of gear is the Super Glove. It's  great for holding hot jars and you can throw it in the washer when it gets sticky. I really don't use this silicon glove for much else -- steam goes right through it and it's too bulky to pick up cookie sheets (for my small hands, anyway) -- but it has become an indispensable canning tool.

Despite the reliance on a tried-and-true recipe for this round of jam, we have had a few forays beyond the Blue Book. Head over to Sometimes Far Afield to read about our adventures finding tuna (cactus fruit) to make back alley prickly pear jelly and how finding rose hips for jelly became a bit of an obsession.

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