My Two Weeks (Or So) Of Non-Stop Apricots
One of the nice things about living on an old homestead is that usually some person, decades ago, was smart enough to plant some fruit trees. Thanks to such past individuals we have an apple tree, crabapples, and a big, mature, apricot tree. The apricot tree has not really been able to set fruit since either of us has lived here, so we were not really prepared for the Apricopocalypse.
What is an “Apricopocalypse” you might ask? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s when apricots take over your life and you can see no end in sight. When you can’t leave the house because of the apricots! As a newbie homesteader, I did not know what I was in for when our apricot tree made it all the way through it’s reproductive mission this year.
The apricots ripened in waves over a period of about a month. At first we were able to pick a couple of pounds at a time as the fruit just started ripening. By the last two weeks, it was all hands on deck as we tried to harvest the fallen apricots off the ground and pick them from the tree before they fell, bringing in at least 30 – 50 lbs a day.
The reason the apricots took over our lives is that they do not keep very well, especially when they have fallen and get split or bruised. Thus, if we wanted to preserve them we had to act fast. Luckily, we had placed ground covers under the tree to cushion the falling fruit and make it easier to see.
We used the fallen apricots for our jam and saved the ones we picked directly from the tree for dehydrating, since they were firmer and easier to place on our dehydrators.
When we had a few big bowl fulls, we would start processing them – washing, pitting, halving, and of course, relocating any bugs that had decided to explore the interiors. (Luckily for me, most of them were the non-slimy variety – I have an irrational fear of wormy little caterpillars.)
Still processing apricots. Sitting at the table started getting on my nerves after a while so I tried different set ups.
Like processing apricots outside!
Hmmm… How long is this going to take?
I decided I liked processing apricots outside. So I did it again.
Every day I would go pick up as many apricots as I could from our ground covers, go process them, and when I went back a few hours later, the ground covers would be covered again.
Yep, STILL processing apricots, late at night this time.
After at least two weeks of spending nearly every day harvesting and / or processing apricots, the thrill of the bumper crop wore off. I started to get a little grumpy.
When our processing was done for the day, Chad would take some of the apricots out to the dehydrators and I would start making jam.
We scoured several books and online sources for apricot jam recipes. All of them had TOO MUCH SUGAR. We tried a good looking low-sugar recipe but it was still too sweet for me.
Finally we decided on a ratio of approximately 10% sugar to 90% fruit. We made our jam, canned it (or “bottled” it as my husband would say), let it sit overnight, and then labeled it. All in all we made an overly sweet “low sugar” jam (as mentioned above), a truly low-sugar jam, a no sugar jam, a variation with some apple thrown in, and some halved apricots preserved in syrup (10% sugar).
When we set up our canning station for the last night, it was a huge relief. Spending over two weeks up to our elbows in apricots was fun, and exhausting. In total, we harvested over 500 lbs of apricots from our single, mature apricot tree.
I thought this experience might permanently turn me off of apricots. Instead, I have traded in my chocolate addiction for an apricot addiction. Anybody have any fresh apricots still? If so, I’ll take em!