It was quite difficult to find enough fruit that hadn't been savaged by the birds. Our backyard is a bird paradise at the moment. We're getting wattle birds, little yellow finches, rainbow coloured parrots (are they lorikeets?), the usual black crows and the doves that like to scrape all the mulch of the vegie patch. Not to mention the sparrows and mynahs. So it's noisy and the fruit that was still more or less whole was often well, a bit dirty. Not to worry.
This is a view from standing on my milk crate, head in the tree. I'm quite taken with how lush the vegie garden is looking from this angle. Due to the drought most of the parks are yellow. People with lush gardens have signs saying they are using grey water. We don't really have any lawn left, just dust, hard dirt with cracks in it and some scraggly bits of dried grass. I checked the vegie patch again today (as I do everyday) and the tomatoes and eggplants seem to be doubling in size daily. They are well mulched and don't seem to mind the dry. The last sowing of corn didn't germinate, but the early sowing is about to set ears I think. It must have got rain at a crucial point perhaps?
Anyway, we managed to pck about three kilos of fruit, which is the limit of my jam pot. And more than enough for one afternoons work. I washed all the fruit very thouroughly and it cleaned up much better than I expected. In past years I would have left fruit this dirty on the tree.
I had forgotten how tricky apricot jam an be. I used the same method as with the plum jam, but unlike with the plums, it was easy to prepare the fruit. But it's a longer boiling time, more likely to catch and burn and much, much harder to judge when it's ready. These apricots are quite low in pectin so the moment of perfection can be easily missed. If you underboil, it will be runny and too sweet. If you overboil, it will be toffeeish. I think this one might be a little overboiled and has a slightly gorpy texture, but we're all agreed that it has a good flavour.
I was very careful with the pouring into jars and only had to clean the sides of one jar. I love the sound of the cellophane cracking as it dries and tightens.
We had a friend over for a beer on New Years day and I asked him if he ate jam and then whether he preferred plum or apricot. He nominated the apricot and went home with a big jar. I think we have a few more to give away, which is nice. I'm feeling quite proud of my jamming efforts this summer. We don't have any more of our own fruit until next summer, unless I can catch the yellow plums, which I've never bothered jamming before. I may yet score some gifts of fruit or see some in the shops that just says jam me. Or I might not. Even so no need for any shop jam at all this year, I think.
* The day was actually New Years Eve, not today which was hotter and would have been truly hellish.