Saturday, July 16, 2011

Stone Fruit Picking

June 11, 2011

Without trying very hard, Devo and I have managed to make a tradition of our annual trip to Brentwood to pick some tasty stone fruits (apparently also called "Drupe") This year we were a group of 7; Myself and Devin, Chris and Monah, and Jeremy, Elaine and Zack! Unfortunately Chris and Kate were out of town this time, but we'll probably still share some of our tasty harvest with them.

I think the tastiest pick of the bucket this year was the cherries, as the apricots weren't quite ripe and the nectarines and peaches were all but gone. We stopped and had a picnic in the cherry grove, and managed to find a couple of trees with ripe apricots at another farm. The best eating of all though was in downtown Brentwood at what is quickly becoming our traditional stop, La Fuente. Great outdoor seating, plenty of shade from the hot sunshine, and ginormous plates of yummy Mexican food after eating way too many sweet stone fruits.

Our harvest currently sits in our freezer awaiting me and my motivation to make jam (recipe below) or bake something "rustic" (that was for you Devin).

Alice Waters Apricot Jam from The Art of Simple Food
Makes 4 Cups

"Jam making doesn't always have to be a big production.  I sometimes make a small amounts and keep it in the refrigerator instead of canning it for unrefrigerated storage."

Put a small plate in the freezer for testing the jam later. Pit and cut up into 1/2-inch pieces:
2.5 lbs apricots (6 cups)
If you like, to give a bitter almond flavor to the jam, crack open apricot pits with a hammer and remove 4 kernels; set aside. Put the apricot chunks in a medium heavy bottomed nonreactive pot and stir in:
3.75 cups sugarBring the apricots and sugar to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and boil steadily stirring often, for 20 to 25 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the top. As the liquid thickens and the fruit becomes soft and translucent, start testing for consistency by putting a spoonful of jam on the chilled plate to cool down quickly. When the jam is the thickness you want, stir in:
Juice of one lemon
Allow the jam to cool, put in a container with an apricot pit in each one, and store in the refrigerator for up to a year.

(You can use this same recipe for long storage if you sterilize four 8-ounce canning jars...)

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