We've moved on to apricots in the valley of fruit that we live in. They are everywhere, people asking, "Do you want some?" or "Please come pick my trees!!!"
And we have. Twice now. It really is a fun (albeit sweat-producing in the upper ninety degree weather) family activity. And just tonight, Mr. Right brought home a huge box from someone at work. I've been working on them for days now. The fruit driers are humming (note to self: Buy more of them! When the fruit is ready, it is ready and they can't wait around for days while the other fruit is drying.)
I sure am thankful for all of this free, organic fruit but I've had several frustrating incidences tonight. One thing is that my old house does not like it when I have every burner on and the oven going at the same time. The fuse box and I are getting to know each other well. My tendency toward impatients does me no good during canning either. I've had three jar fatalities so far. Putting a too cold jar in to too hot a water bath does that to even the best of them.
But, most jars are coming out ok. It's so nice to be working away and hear the pop! pop! of the jars sealing. What satisfaction! And, when I am most frustrated at my little issues, I think of the story that my friend Suzy told me. Years ago she was canning peaches, half gallons, I believe. She'd worked and worked for hours, placing each jar on her wood table as they came out of the water bath. When she was done, she sat down and admired their beauty. They were so beautiful, in fact, that she left those jars of peaches right where they were for several days just to look at them. When she was ready to put them away, as she picked up each jar, the bottoms broke off right where the hot jar had had contact with the table. She sat and cried. Whatever is going on in my kitchen, at least it's not as bad as Suzy's peaches!
Every time I begin to think that canning is just one gigantic time waster, I try to remember that I'm helping my husband to provide for the family by spending my time doing something that would cost a lot of money to buy. I try to remember that by teaching my children how to grow, harvest and preserve the harvest, I am enabling them, and possibly future generations to be self sufficient, which is a dying skill. I try to remember that when I know exactly where the food came from and how it was processed, I can rest easy knowing that it is the best possible thing I can feed my children. I try to remember that keeping busy to prepare for the future is what I should be doing, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, [and] gather her food in the harvest." Proverbs 6:6-8
And one more thing I will leave you with tonight.... a yummy recipe:
24 medium apricots
3 cups sugar
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 to 1 teaspoon each ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon
To prepare pulp:Wash and stem apricots; cut in halves; pit. Cook apricots until soft, adding only enough water to prevent sticking (about 1/2 cup). Press through a sieve or food mill. Measure 1 1/2 quarts apricot pulp.
To prepare butter: Combine apricot pulp and sugar. Cook until thick enough to round up on a spoon. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Add lemon juice. Ladle the hot butter into jars.
Process jars in water bath canner for 10 minutes for pints.