I am enjoying life in Northern California, and all the wonderful produce that my local farms and farmers market has to offer. This week was my first foray into making my own preserves and jams. Thanks to my sister for giving me the idea and some good advice – follow the directions EXACTLY!!!
For my first attempt, I chose to tackle apricots. I picked certified organic apricots at Enos Family Farms in Brentwood. They have a wonderful farm that is now certified organic. After picking almost ten pounds of apricots, I headed home, washed them, and read the directions again. About four hours later, I had peeled and pitted about 200 apricots, resulting in 11 jars of apricot preserves and a kitchen in disarray. It was fun, but quite the challenge. My first attempt may well be more of a syrup than a jam, but it does taste excellent on toast with peanut butter!
I learned several things:
- Prep all ingredients in advance of starting
- Peeling and pitting apricots is a lot like peeling tomatoes
- Next time I will try a larger stone fruit, like peaches or nectarines
- I am no good at testing the consistency of jam. I went out today and bought a candy thermometer because it is much more reliable than I am when it comes to this test.
Today I decided to make a second attempt. This time I picked up some local blackberries at Chan’s fruit stand in Brentwood. They have both picked and u-pick, but I decided to let them do the picking today. I can definitely say that blackberries were easier to process than the apricots. I made two batches in less than two hours, resulting in twelve half-pints of blackberry jam. The kitchen is clean, and tomorrow we will see how they turned out!