This is the week. The apricot tree’s days are accomplished. It’s harvest time and that can only mean one thing: jam. Lots and lots of jam.
We’re novices here, so our methods of harvest were not the picturesque scenes you’d imagine with the boys toting wicker baskets and Kate and I girding up our large aprons so we could fill them with the golden fruit. The tree is rather large, and the apricots hang astonishingly high. The tree house up there helped a bit, but the branches stretch out for what feels like miles, and the thought of scaling those boughs, well, that’s more than any jar of jam is worth. The use of a tall ladder was out because the grass underneath the tree slopes a bit, Paul was gone, and well, again, more than any jar of jam is worth.
So we got practical. We laid out an old sheet on the lawn, got a chair, and had at the tree with pool noodles and plastic lightsabers. We swung high and low, sometimes throwing them up into the leafy tree tops like javelins. Plop, plop, pl-pl-pl-pl-pl-plop! Down they came like the hail you only read about in the Old Testament. They were vast, they were plentiful, they were messy. Step one, accomplished.
Now, I’ve made my fair share of freezer jam in my life, so I wanted to learn a new skill: actually preserving and shelving food for the year. You know, in jars with two piece lids. I wanted to hear that melodious high pinged “pop,” the sound the lids make when they suction down and declare your food “preserved.”
Let me tell you, it’s quite an ordeal, but not impossible. In fact, once you get a rhythm going, it’s not so bad. Wash, chop, pectin, sugar, boil, pour, wipe, seal, boil, POP. Really, it’s that pop at the end that is somehow so gratifying it makes you want to do another batch! I did three, then tried my hand at apricot chutney. (The chutney was from some moroccan recipe I found online. Apricots, onions, garlic, curry, cinnamon, that kind of thing. Pour over chicken and jasmine rice and dinner just went from ho-hum to wowzers.)
But sure enough, the kitchen became unbearably hot and my legs unbearably exhausted. Once we exported the jars down to the cool, icy basement we stayed there until dinner .
But the tree is still heavy with fruit. We only lightsabered off the tip of the iceberg. And if I eat one more piece of toast slathered with fresh jam,
I’m gonna POP.