Over the years, we have been adding fruit trees to our yard. Each year we enjoy the harvest and find fun ways to use up the bounty. With two kids, multiple pets, and busy schedules, it's never convenient, but we manage to get it done....sometimes over a few days.
We harvest apricots in one day. Wash, then pop out the pip of ripe apricots or cut it out of unripe fruit to cook into jam. Everyone gets involved, the kids love stealing and eating all the ripe fruit, and the chickens get all the pruned leaves (complete with bugs), branches, rotten fruit, and pits.
The apricot harvest was tiny this year, and we had to harvest a couple days early due to work and camping trips. Even with a smaller harvest, we still had enough apricots to make four galettes (we froze a couple to enjoy later) and a couple dozen jars of our favorite apricot freezer jam. Jam is forgiving for both over and under ripe fruit.
We follow the basic recipe below, which can be adapted for most stone fruits.
Apricot Freezer Jam
- 2-1/2 cups chopped pitted apricots (about 21 medium)
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 3/4 cup water
- 6 Tbsp Ball® RealFruit™ Classic Pectin
- 5-1/2 cups sugar
6 half pint (8-oz) glass preserving jars with lids and bands
- COMBINE prepared apricots with lemon juice in a large bowl. Add sugar, mixing thoroughly. Let stand 10 minutes.
- COMBINE 3/4 cup water and pectin in a small saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, continuing to stir.
- ADD cooked pectin mixture to fruit mixture. Stir for 3 minutes.
SPICE THINGS UP!
Experiment with the basic jam recipe. Things I've added:
- Old vanilla pods. I scraped out the seeds for ice cream or other recipes and save the pods.
- Spiced sugar. Add dried orange peel and cloves to a large sugar jar. You can also use cloves, cinnamon stick, or allspice for various batches. This makes sugar for my jams and ice cream floral and deep in flavor.
TOO MUCH FRUIT?
Already given fruit to friends, neighbors, and co-workers and STILL have too much fruit? Pit and freeze it in Ziploc bags. We bought a chest freezer when our twins were born to store homemade baby food, and now we use it for freezing peak fruit in the summer. We made dried apricots with last year’s extras – straight from the freezer to the dehydrator. Delicious! They were perfect sweet treats for my kids school lunches.
Do you have a favorite way to preserve abundant backyard harvests? Any other ideas for making sure that good food doesn’t go to waste? Share with us in comments below!