December is apricot time on the farm. When I first moved to Vastrap after our wedding the apricots were in full swing and I instantly conformed to one of the most commonly held stereotypes about farm wives – making jam. Quentin absolutely loves apricot jam and his mother’s jam is the best so I had a lot to live up to. She gave me a few pointers over the two-way radio one morning and after that I was on my own.
Karine’s tips for the perfect apricot jam:
1. If the apricots are sweet and ripe use 750g of sugar to 1kg of apricots.
2. Soak the apricots in the sugar for a few hours or overnight.
3. Do not add any water.
4. Sterlise the bottles in the oven at 100 degrees Celsius and boil the lids in water.
5. Scoop off the foam that develops and stir occasionally as the jam thickens.
6. DO NOT ADD HOT JAM TO COLD BOTTLES!
7. Add a few apricot kernels to each bottle.
I added a bit of lemon juice to that first batch of jam and it turned out really well, but unfortunately I didn’t make nearly enough. I thought I would be able to give it away as gifts to my city friends, but Quentin guarded it jealously and we finished the last bottle in November. The next year I made a LOT more, 15 kilograms worth, so there was plenty to go around. I wouldn’t recommend making such a large batch in one go as it is impossible to divide the sugar evenly between the fruit. It also made a huge mess as my kitchen was in the process of being renovated and I didn’t have any counter tops or lights. Stirring and scooping from from three large overflowing pots was quite an initiation for my new stove!
For the past two years our favourite tree has been completely denuded by baboons so we’ve picked our crop from a very old tree which stands in the middle of one of our crop lands, this year planted to wheat. Our friends Debbie and David Amm were visiting us for the weekend and they helped us with the harvest. Their kids Jordan and Dylan had such fun and all Dylan wanted to do was to find a worm! It’s impossible not to eat plenty of fruit as you pick – 100% organic and so sweet, juicy and delicious!