Thursday, June 15, 2006

Apricot Season - Organic or Non-Organic ???

Early Harvest - Blenheim Variety
Can you tell which are organic? Look at them blush . . .

When Ander and I relocated to Northern California, we knew we were in the heart of God's country. The first spring season, we drove out to a U-Pick farm that had apricot trees galore. We spent the day sitting up in the trees, eating the delicious stone fruit. Eating...more than picking. It was $.35/Lb. Imagine! We brought home 50 Lbs. Some to eat fresh, some to share with new neighbors and the remaining my attempt to make apricot jam.

Our friends K and J, encouraged our relocation. They moved to God's country shortly after they were married. We learned from them what the country-life was like, until we discovered our own spirit of "being country-fied". I've learned how to preserve the fruit we harvest. At its peak, the pantry is full of jams, chutneys, pickles, cordials, etc....What we don't keep, we gift and share with those that appreciate the products of Maison Kase.

Organic: $5.99/Lb.

Non-Organic: $4.99/Lb.

I was disappointed to discover that regardless of the price points, neither organic nor non-organic, had the flavor of the fresh picked, right off the branch profile. They were blah-zay. Not exciting. Since Ander is friendly with the produce guys at the corner market, they took the fruit back an gave me a refund as a gesture of good faith towards a loyal customer. The biggest bummer, the farm was bulldozed several years ago to put in a phase of home developments. Too bad, we're losing sustainable farms due to the overwhelming growth of commuters and their bedroom communities...

I did learn different ways to preserve the fruit. Other than the usual, canned fruit, I also dried them in a commercial dehydrator. I learned from an elderly woman how, as a child, they would dry the fruit by the heat of the sun. She also mentioned how they would make "sun preserved fruit".

Sun Preserved Apricot Spread

5 Lbs. stoned and cut apricots
5 Lbs. fine sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

Place all ingredients in a non-reactive container. Mix all well in container and cover with fine screen, layers of cheesecloth or muslin. (Something to keep out bugs, leaves, etc....) Expose the container to the high heat of the sun. Mix ocassionally through the process. In the evening, bring the container indoors to protect it from "night raiders" and return back to the heat of the sun next morning. Allow the juices to excrete and blend with sugar. This will take approximately three days, depending on how high the sun's heat radiates through the fruit mixture. Since only a small amount of pectin is naturally occurring, the preserve will be a bit loose. But it's worth the effort.

Break out the scones, toast or bagels. Bring on the Carbs!

I like to spread the preserves over cornish game hens and roast them in the oven for 40-50 minutes (depending if stuffed or not). I also brush pork chops with the preserves and place them on the grill. Summer treats are abound!

Enjoy! Here's to a blissful banquet!


Blogger charles said...

about time, i was about to drop you off my blog list!!!

7:46 PM, June 15, 2006  

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