|Posted on June 30, 2009 at 1:48 AM|
One of the first pictures I took for the blog in May was my apricot tree. The fruit was still green then. I thought it would take between 6-8 weeks for the aprictos to ripen but 4 weeks later, here I am making apricot jam with the harvested fruit. I am leaving for Tokyo in a few days and I would like to take some jam back as a souvenir. The tree produced about 300 apricots this year. Raw, they tasted best when they were firm and still slightly on the green side. Riper, the fruit became sweeter but slightly mushy. This is the trouble with apricots. You love them but they don't quite deliver. So we picked most of the fruit slightly early and decided to try jam making with them.
Apricot butter cooling in the jars
Since I knew I couldn't get to the fruit right away, I froze the fresh picked apricots. Freezing is a good way to preserve certain fruit but you want to make sure they are clean, firm and not bruised. I found an apricot butter recipe in Joy of Cooking. I defrosted 8 lbs of apricots overnight and spent Saturday cooking the fruit in my big Le Creuset pot. When defrosted, the apricots go brown and look like they are about to melt but the flavor remains intact. The apricots were sweetened with sugar and spiced with cinnamon, allspice and clove but I found The Joy of Cooking recipe too generous with spices for my taste so I cut back. Also, since every fruit has different levels of acidity and sweetness . you have to be flexible about how much sugar and lemon juice to add. I kept tasting the apricot butter with a spoon. I's good to have a nice loaf of bread when you are making jam so you can try it on a piece of bread. I had a beautiful loaf of Brioche that Huckleberry gave me yesterday for free. They wouldn't let me pay for it because it was past 6 pm and the cash register was already closed. Got lucky. By the time I finished straining all the fruit, and tasting it, adjusting the spices, I felt tired. I decided this was more than a day's work. I let the apricot puree rest in the fridge for a couple of days. I came back to it and finished the rest of the recipe today. This was a good strategy. The apricot butter turned out nice and the spices were a good accent. I might make it without the spices next time and to keep it pure apricots with just a hint of lemon. I will see what my Japanese friends have to say about the apricot butter.