This is definitely the best year ever for our Rouge du Roussillon apricot tree, planted when we first bought the garden about 8 years ago. For the past two years there have been badly timed cold snaps in March which have killed off the fruit soon after fertilisation. This year everything seems to have been perfect for a great crop and we’ve already picked about 11 kilos of fruit, with a few kilos still ripening.
I love apricots, but even so that’s a lot of fruit so, although we’ve been eating them every day and have given some to friends, some of it has had to be preserved. Now we’ll be able to enjoy the delicious flavour all through the year. I used some of the windfalls and damaged fruit to make jam – equal quantities of fruit and sugar and a little lemon juice brought to the boil and simmered until setting point, which didn’t seem to be very long. We used to buy special jam-making sugar with added pectin but have decided not to do so any more as it is very expensive and it just doesn’t work. The best jam we’ve made so far this year was with ordinary sugar.
And then there’s sorbet – one of the best ways of preserving the fresh flavour of any fruit because it isn’t cooked. For every 500 grams of stoned fruit, puréed in the food processor, I added 300 grams of sugar dissolved in a cupful of water – heating it in a pan until all the grains dissolved. I mixed the syrup and fruit in a freezer container and put it in the freezer overnight – very simple! And when we have family visiting in a couple of weeks’ time we’ll be able to serve it with fresh mint and maybe a little Cartagène or sweet wine.
There are other ways of using all these apricots and I was very happy to be reminded of apricot leather, which I used to love as a child in Turkey. That’s an experiment still in progress at the moment: I stoned and roughly chopped 700 grams of apricots, added the juice of half a lemon and 50 grams of sugar, brought them all to the boil and simmered until all the fruit was cooked. I puréed the fruit using a hand-held liquidiser (although you could use a mouli-légumes) and spread it thinly on a sheet of greaseproof paper in a baking tin. It can be dried in the oven on a low temperature – about 120 C – but since the it’s so hot here at present I’m trying to dry it in the sun. I hope in a day or so to be able to show you the dried end result, but this is what it looked like this morning:
One other idea which I haven’t tried yet is to preserve the fruit in alcohol. More on that soon.
Just to finish today, here’s a brimstone butterfly that rested near me in the garden a day or so ago: