Monday, July 21, 2014

apricot apocalypse with jam maker's new bible

A glut of fruit always produces a crisis, especially for those of the 'waste not, want not' school of home management.   Composting excess fruit, or allowing the sheep to eat themselves sick on it, seems like a cop-out, like ducking responsibility towards a demanding gift.

Last weekend five cageots - lightweight wooden cases - of ripe apricots from Provence arrived at La Chaise.  Five kilos of fruit per cageot.  It was a collective order gone wrong, some people did not follow through on their orders.  A few rotten fruits in each box rapidly contaminated the others.

The theory was that the fruits, picked at near maturity, had suffered from being transported in a refrigerated van and then put in store during one of the Dordogne's erratic heat-waves.
delicious macerating in best Victoria ironstone wash bowl.

Emergency jam making was the order of the day.   No time to shop for new jam-jars, extra sugar or sugar with extra pectin added.  Fortunately I have just acquired a new jam making bible - from the 'Jam Museum' , Museu de la Confitura'.*  A major virtue of its recipes is that only half the usual amount of sugar  suggested by English language cook-books, is considered necessary. So per kilo of apricots I only need half a kilo of sugar.

The apricot jam nestles happily with Spanish marmalade and French terrine

I halved the small fruits and macerated them overnight.   By breakfast time the sugar was all dissolved and the fruits looked almost transparent.  A little slow cooking to make sure the sugar entered the fruit, then the zest and juice of one lemon, a brief but fast boil - and it was done. Four pots of assorted sizes, sealed with white paraffin wax and a random selection of lids - job done.

And a mind left free to speculate on one of its favourite theories:   that transport is the root of all economic evil.

* www.museudelaconfitura

17123 Torrente

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