The Day of Canned Apricots & Apricot Initiation

Many of you that have been following us on our Facebook page know that ever since I got back from my LA trip two weeks ago, we’ve been foraging for food NON-STOP. We’ve canned many types of fruits so far, but today was Apricot day, and it’s a memorable day to share with you all.

While the past few months have been busy tying up loose ends, finishing up our diy wood-fired hot tub and even tackling our first cement project, the amount of ripe fruit available in the month of June caused us to seriously switch gears.

Actually, to be completely honest, we realized that it was huckleberry season and since huckleberries are such a delectable treat, we decided that we needed to pick as many as possible and preserve them. The only way we saw fit to preserve these was canning.

canning-day

Long story short, after making huckleberry preserves, huckleberry pepper jam, huckleberry barbecue sauce and huckleberry ice cream, we shifted our focus to the other numerous fruit offered to us both from our neighbors and even fruit trees in town that were being neglected.

So… onto the events that led up to Apricot Day.

Sourcing the Apricots: Ask And You Shall Receive!

Jesse and I noticed that there were fruit trees all over town that were ripe with fruit yet it didn’t appear that anyone was after it. More specifically, the ripe fruit was falling on the ground to rot, especially with the apricot tree we spotted at a local business.

apricots-fresh

We went into the business and asked them if we might be able to pick fruit off of their apricot tree and they said “Absolutely! We aren’t going to pick it AND it would actually help us out because we have to walk and drive on the rotten fruit which is kinda yucky.”

Believe it or not, at that point we were the only ones that had asked about picking the fruit. Later that week, we went back with a ladder and went crazy on the tree. It turns out our ladder wasn’t quite tall enough, and we had to get creative with pulling the branches down (see below photo), but we were quickly about to fill up almost two 5-gallon buckets. We felt that this was more than enough apricots for us to start with.

tree-swing

You might recall that last fall, we were able to gather (for almost free) $5,000 in materials in three days that would have otherwise gone to waste by simply asking. Asking to harvest fruit that would otherwise go to waste is along the same lines.

In the case of this business, it was a win-win because we prevented a lot of fruit from falling in their driveway (we actually cleaned up some already fallen fruit to be kind) and in exchange, we received gallons of fruit that would have otherwise cost us maybe $3.00+/pound. Mind you, these were completely organic apricots.

apricot-buckets

For some extra reading, here are other ways we’re able to find great deals on resources and materials. A must-read for anyone looking to start their homestead affordably!

One last tip… if someone lets you pick fruit from their tree, give them a can or two of what you create! It’s great to keep the circle of kindness going and you might really make the day of the person that otherwise wouldn’t have enjoyed the fruit.

Picking Our Apricot Canning Recipes to Attack

We actually picked the apricots before they were completely ripe. It’s ideally best to let them ripen fully on the tree, but in this case, they were already extremely sweet so we decided to risk it. However, a few days later, it seemed that a lot of the fruit was already rotting so we decided it was go time! Time to put these apricots to use… ALL OF THEM!

We decided to try out three different recipes in small batches first to see if they were good or not.

apricots-jesse

Tools We Needed to Can

We hope to do a full post soon on getting started with canning, but one of the things we have in our homestead toolkit is a canning box that we pull out every time we get ready to can. It has everything we need and every tool has a specific purpose. If you’re new to canning, be sure you have these things in your collection.

  • Water-bath canner or pressure canner: The pressure canner can be used as a water-bath canner if you only want one tool for both jobs. Most frequently we use a water-bath canner that holds about seven half-pint jars. This is good for most recipes but if we’re really canning in bulk, we’ll use our Presto canner that’s a bit larger. However, it feels overkill for most of the things we do so why waste water if it’s not necessary?
  • Mason jars, lids and rings: We always have on hand pint-sized, half-pint sized and quart-sized mason jars so that we’re always ready to can. It’s recommended to have new lids for each round of canning, although the rings and jars can be re-used.
  • Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving: This is our canning bible, especially as we are newbies. I start here with every recipe, and if I find a recipe on the internet, I compare it always to a recipe in here as these are tried, tested and safe. It has lots of great info on why we do what we do, how to can safely, and lots of great info on the pH of different foods.
  • Ball utensil set: I didn’t purchase this right away because I didn’t know if I really needed it or not… after my first canning session, I bought this immediately! Each tool really has its own purpose including the jar lifter, lid lifter (from the scalding hot water), jar funnel and air bubble remover.
  • Outdoor 3-burner portable stove: While I tried canning in our RV the first time, canning can be rather messy so we bought a 3-burner outdoor cooking stove and love it. We actually cook our real meals on this stove too as it’s too hot indoors to cook.

That’s the basics of what our canning setup is. Ingredients will differ recipe-to-recipe so we won’t include those. Onto the fun stuff!

The Basics: Apricot Preserve Recipe

The first recipe we try with most any fruit is a simple preserves. Believe it or not, there is a difference technically between a preserve, jam, marmalade, jelly and a conserve.

Because we don’t like more work than necessary, such as using a jelly strainer to make jelly, we often opt for the most-simple recipe. We also try to use recipes that don’t need pectin because it’s just one more thing to buy. However, some fruits are low in pectin and it can really help the jam to gel, but generally there are options when it comes to what type of jam-like substance you want to make!

apricot preserves recipe

We used the jam recipe in the Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving which only required additional sugar and lemon juice. I think apricots are safe enough to water-bath can, but their pH is on the lower end of safe for this method I believe, so the lemon juice either exists to raise the pH to be safe or to maybe help with preservation. If you’re a canning expert, chime in on this would ya?

Apricot Initiation: Blanching apricots is no fun at all!

Up until this point, our jams and preserves have been quite easy (like this thimbleberry jam), but this easy streak came to a screeching halt with the apricots!

The recipes call for blanching to remove the skin, and I can see why, but this was quite the messy task. I was very frustrated with this the first day because I seemed to need about six dishes or something ridiculous for the task! This was after trying to sort through the rotten apricots, and using apricots that were too ripe for the task. Either way, we prevailed, but I can’t say this idea makes me want to plant an apricot tree when I have many other fruits to pick from that aren’t as messy.

blanching-apricots

After one batch went well, and after I discovered that apricot jam can be used as a base for several sauces including sweet and sour sauce, we decided to finish the apricot batch with additional preserves. Total, we ended up with 17 half-pint jars of apricot preserves! HOLY COW!

Apricot Nectar Recipe

The next thing we decided to try was an apricot nectar. Apparently there aren’t any recipes titled “apricot juice” because it turns out it’s quite hard to juice an apricot. Instead, the “juice” is a thicker substance but equally delicious.

apricot-nectar

We had so many apricots that we thought turning them into juice would be a great way to use them in bulk, and then we could drink the nectar throughout winter or even later in summer as a delicious probiotic soda!

Apricot Initiation #2: Juicing an apricot is near impossible!

Even with easy-to-follow and seemingly straightforward recipes, juicing apricots isn’t as easy as it looks. The first round I attempted boiling the apricots and straining the juice through a colander which only clogged the colander. I tried the jelly strainer and that was equally laughable – not even a drop came out! I ended up having to take a large spoon and push the nectar through the colander.. and some of the pulp didn’t make it through, thinning out the juice just a little bit. In the end, I ended up adding A LOT of water.

The next round, we ended up going to our storage unit and getting our juicer. I warned Jesse that I didn’t think this would be very successful, and I was pretty right for the first half of the juicing anyways. The pulp clogged the juicer so bad that apricot sauce was oozing out the sides! We cleaned it out frequently, added some water to the apricots when we juiced them, and finally completed batch two. UGH.

apricot-explosion

In the end, we have two quarts, five pints and a half-pint of apricot juice. We look forward to see how we can use this! Apricot nectar IS delicious although I see us only consuming it in small quantities.

The Star of the Show: Apricot Salsa

The last thing I decided to try was this apricot salsa recipe. We don’t consume that many jams or sweets in our daily diet to be perfectly honest, so I was hoping to turn these apricots into something a little more hearty. I wasn’t feeling anything like a barbecue sauce, so I attempted the salsa. I’ve never had a fruit salsa so I was highly skeptical.

canned apricot salsa recipe

We did have to go to the store to buy some peppers, onion, garlic and cilantro, but the costs on those were minimal and the other ingredients we already had. I started with half a batch to test it out.

When I sampled the final product, I was completely floored. It was SO GOOD! I knew immediately that we would need to make another batch so that we could end up with eight pints total. I can see us loving this over the next year with salty tortilla chips… there’s just something about the sweet/salty combination that is to-die-for! If you need to use up fruit but are tired of jams, I suggest trying a fruit salsa such as this!

apricot-salsa

Summing it Up: Apricot Canned Goods Galore

In the end, we ended up with loads of canned apricot goods! What a terrible problem to have, right? Jesse and I tend to go big with whatever we do, and only after a year goes by will we know if we canned enough fruit goods to get us through the year.

We try to “get while the gettin’s good” so we are taking that mentality with the fruit available now. Huckleberries, currants, serviceberries, apricots and cherries are a few things that are available to us today to gather for free and can, so why not take advantage of it?

canned apricot recipes

How You Can Do This Too

If you are new to canning, we suggest you invest in a water-bath canner and the Ball Blue Book to get your feet wet. Alternatively, you can likely use a large stock pot you already have AND you can probably find canning books at your local library!

Then, look around where you live and see if there are any fruit trees. Simply knock on a near door and ask if you can pick some fruit! Alternatively, you can learn about wild edible plants in your area OR even visit a you-pick berry patch. Heck, you can even visit a farmer’s market!

IMG_9649

The idea is to take advantage of seasonal, quality food and preserve it for later. You can also try freezing the food if you have freezer space and enough electricity (we don’t) or even invest in a entry-level dehydrator and make dehydrated fruit or fruit leather! The opportunities are endless!

Get Involved!

Let us know your thoughts! Have you done any big canning projects this year? What is something you try to preserve every year? What have you learned over the years as far as what to preserve and what not to preserve (like what sounded like a good idea but really wasn’t)? We’d love to hear as always!

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.

Comments

  1. says

    Aah! Apricot jam!

    I had a go at it a few years ago, and posted a recipe on our blog. I made it with lemon and cinnamon, see translation below.

    Are you sure you need to go through that cumbersome water canning process? I just heat up the tins in the oven above 100 C (212 F).

    In Scandinavia we have a magic cheating product called jam sugar, that is sugar with a bit of pectin in it. I use it for berries and fruits that are low in pectin.

    Click on the link and it will bring you to a picture of a tin with apricot jam.

    Through the grace of Google Translate and some manual translation here’s the recipe for Apricot Jam with Cinnamon. Cook it, taste it and then say: Jammy

    Apricot Jam with Cinnamon
    I got hold of fresh apricots and decided to concoct a jam. Apricots can be a bit bland and need something to spice them, in this case the juice of half a lemon and a cinnamon bar.

    It’s amazing how something that only takes 20 minutes to make can taste so good.

    500 g fresh apricots (6-8)
    250 g jam sugar
    juice of 1/2 lemon
    1 cinnamon stick (Ceylon)

    Heat the oven to 125 C and disinfect the tins.
    Cut the apricots into bite small pieces
    Mix all ingredients in a heavy saucepan, bring to a boil, cook for 2-3 minutes, skim off the bacteria
    Pour into the sanitized jars, wipe off any excess and close as quickly as possible
    Given how easy it is to cook your own marmalade and that the result is at least 5 times better than to go and buy an industrial product, there is no reason not to do your own.

    • says

      Hard to say if we’re going overkill with our process but being rookies, following the Ball Blue Book makes us feel safe. You know what, I have heard of jam sugar with added pectin, although I have no idea where to purchase it. Online no doubt. For the most part, we’re trying to not use any pectin at all but some fruit likely requires it to get it to get. Thanks for the recipe! Cinnamon apricot jam sounds so delicious! I would probably eat that straight out of the jar in a few sittings with Jesse so maybe we better not make it… hahaha!

      • says

        Sorry, I forgot that you haven’t got an oven. Right?
        You do it the way my maternal grandmother did, she was a master of jams and conservation being born before the first world war when preserving food was a matter of survival.

        I used to disinfect the cans with boiling water and citric acid since that was how we disinfected dialysis machines at the company I worked for. Then one of the micro biologist at work told me that she used the autoclave in her lab and then I started to use the oven for disinfection which is fast and easy.

        Look at the BBC Food site for chutney recipes.

        To not overproduce, plan ahead. I have black currant jam with my porridge in the mornings. One can lasts about 2 weeks, so I make exactly 27 cans every summer. I’m at number 26 this week and on Monday the black currant picking starts again.

        If you have excess fruit or can pick up from the ground, then put it in the compost and mix with other stuff.

  2. Wayne Burgher says

    Thank You for the time and effort that goes into your blog and videos.
    They are educational and entertaining.
    While caring for my mother while she battled breast cancer, the internet provided me with a large
    support system of people from many walks in life. ( including you ambitious folks )
    I promised myself I would attempt to meet as many of these online friends as possible.
    To that end, I will be packing my camping gear on my Honda Silver Wing touring scooter this fall
    and setting off on a junket in search of face to face meetings with as many online friends as possible. If I don’t make it to your side of The States this Fall, I’ll put you high on the list after the snow melts from the mountain passes next Spring.
    One last thing, I Really enjoy hearing your cat(s) talking in the background of the videos.

  3. Dustin Horn says

    Your headed down the same road I did.
    I went crazy on jam making. Made about 15 jars of Concord Grape from 5 gallons of grapes I got for free.
    Stuff turned out good, and I gave some away.
    At the start of the next grape season we still had about 10 jars and wife said make no more till we run out. I think we still have some. I would learn how to make some crepes to use up the abundance.

    • says

      Haha that’s what we’re wondering… if we’ll have TONS of leftover jam at the end of the year! I guess you don’t know until you do it. Maybe you can go after another fruit, or experiment with non-jam recipes?

      • Georganne Schuch says

        Make sure you label all the jars. They look so different now, but in a year, it will be hard to tell. Trust me. We have a whole shelf of “mystery jams and jellies.”

        • says

          Hahaha for one round I thought “Ohh I’ll write the label on those later” and even with a few canned items, I did a doubletake as to what it was! I can totally see having a bunch of mystery jams! Luckily, we caught it early 😉

          • Aparecida says

            Thank you for the inspiring blogs and videos!
            About pectnin: I too choose not to use pectnin.
            And my recipes are not loaded with sugar either. Some recipes will call for lemon juice.

            I live in Oregon (30 years) but have lived in Portugal where quince preserves are very popular. Quince is a heirloom fruit (about 4,000 years old) and a relative of the apple.
            It is very sour if eaten raw, although some new varieties are not so much.
            It has the most amazing fragrance and it is the fruit highest in pectin.

            When making quince jam, pour it in a flat dish and you will be able to slice it a few days later, and eat with cheese. This is one of the most beloved treats in Brazil and Portugal. Whole Food markets sell it (pricey) under the name “membrillo”.

            The skin, core and seeds can be boiled and saved for adding to other fruit preserves that are low in pectin.

            The ripe quince can also be used in any apple recipe: pies, crisps, or just baked in the oven.

            The tree is beautiful and so disease resistant that is care free.
            Quince grows in USDA zones 5 to 9. Please check your zone if you decide for one.
            They do very well in the Portland area.

            Congratulations on so many great projects!

          • says

            Wow, how awesome! A quince tree sounds like a pretty special gem! We will look into it… I think we are zone 5, but apples grow here so I imagine quince(s) does as well. Membrillo and cheese does sound like a wonderful treat. Thanks for sharing! Isn’t it amazing what we learn when we visit other areas and cultures?

      • Mary says

        I know they tell you to use jam and jellies within the year. Believe it or not some jars of jam and jellies have been found to be perfect for eating after 25 years of storage. Always give smell and small tast test first. P.s. what is a service berry?

  4. says

    I can’t believe all the fruit that goes to waste in our town. We’re always looking to harvest free food! The apricot salsa looks so good! I love fruit salsas. Have you guys tried fermenting yet? It’s a great way to preserve foods but also get some probiotics! We posted a killer fermented spicy pineapple salsa recipe a couple months back and I’m gearing up for some fermented spicy ginger carrots this week. Busy time of year with all the food preservation! Enjoy!

    • says

      We are just getting started with fermenting! Have you heard of a “ginger bug”? We just brought ours into the world and hope to use it to make some probiotic soda! We also ordered a bunch of spices to make a probiotic root beer… hoping it’s mind-blowing and then some. HAH! Funny, ginger carrots is on my to-do list… would love to hear how they turn out. So much fun! I think I’m on the same path as you food-wise but you seem to be a few steps ahead of me. I need to stalk your blog some more, and we’re going to have an interesting chat next time we talk in-person :-)

      • says

        YES! I have made a ginger bug, unfortunately it was before this whole blogging adventure so no posts on the step-by-step, but I LOVED it! I’d make ginger ale that tastes similar to the stronger ginger beers on the market. I hope yours works out! I found it a bit more work than our other “kitchen pets” since it required daily feelings of minced ginger and sugar. I tried keeping a bunch of minced ginger in the fridge, but it has such a short shelf life it went bad before I’d used it up. I find I have a threshold of three or four ferments at a time, anymore and they start getting neglected! Maybe I need to make a ginger bug again, for the sake of blogging and all! Root beer was something I’ve wanted to try but never got all the herbs to do so! Let me know if it’s worth the investments! I love talking all-things-fermenty! Let’s try to get together!

        • says

          I think I saw in one of your photos that Nourishing Traditions is your bible? I just picked this up from the library and am so excited to try more things (organ meat?!)! I also read your post over one dontwastethecrumbs.com on how you save money on dairy for your family by buying raw milk and turning it into other dairy products… you need to teach me your ways! We were doing the raw milk thing but missed our half and half too much so back drinking garbage we are. I think today when I go to the store I’m going to try to make some whey… seems it can be made once and then sit for six months? Feeding the bug is a lot of work and it’s still pretty tiny. I think our spices should come in the mail this week so we’ll see how the root beer turns out! If it’s good, maybe I can bring you a bottle?

          • says

            Oh man, get ready for information overload with Nourishing Traditions! It’s totally the nutrition bible (like the Ball Blue Book is for canning!). Pace yourself! I imagine having raw milk with a little RV fridge could be rough, but the guy we get our milk from will put it in half gallon containers if you supply them. I’ll get you his number…also, I wouldn’t recommend buying from the store as you won’t get much cream to skim. From a gallon we can skim upwards of 4 cups of cream! You’ll never buy half and half again! Yes, whey lasts a long time, but be sure it’s strained through a super fine mesh (like a nut milk bag) so all the milk solids are out, otherwise it won’t last as long. Whey is great for helping speed up ferments…I so hope your root beer turns out, I’d LOVE a bottle! I’ll trade ya for a bottle or two of kombucha and water kefir! :) Are you in need of a scoby’ by chance?

          • says

            We bought our raw milk today and tomorrow…. whey-making! I have a hunch it will work better than the ginger but but we’ll see. Still waiting on root beer makings but I just canned 12 quarts of cherry juice so cherry soda it is in the meantime! Yes, I would love the number of the guy you get your milk from. We get ours from the grocery store which I’m sure you’ve tried that brand, but I have nothing to compare it to. If I could drink raw half and half my life would be changed forever. I think we need to have a nourishing traditions cooking day soon :-) I’d take a scoby but last time, I couldn’t commit to drinking the kombucha or making it quick enough, so the scoby withered up and died! I’ll let ya know if that changes though…. your scoby probably makes scoby babies in your closet like mine did HAHA! So much fun!

          • says

            So if you like half and half and low fat yogurt it is simple enough. If you are getting your raw milk in plastic jugs and the cream has risen to the top set it on the edge of a shelf with one corner sticking out. Punch a hole in the bottom corner so that the skim milk can run into another container. When the level has dropped in the gallon jug to half milk, half cream tilt the jug to stop the flow. Then empty the jug into your half and half container and refrigerate.
            Warm the skim milk to a little over 100 degrees and mix in some live culture yogurt and keep the milk between 80 and 90 degrees until it sets, which should be easy to do this time of year.
            I personally like the cultured cream on top so I do not separate the milk. Because I have a water bed set at 80 degrees I put the jars in the corners to culture over night and put them in the refrigerator in the morning.

  5. says

    Hello, Alyssa! Wow – that’s a lotta apricots! A couple of years ago I was also blessed with a large quantity of apricots. We made an apricot brandy conserve and some syrup. We don’t eat very much jelly/jam either, so with almost half of our apricot haul (the best looking ones) we washed them well, rimmed them in half, dipped them in a 20% lemon juice solution (to prevent them turning too dark) and spread them skin down on a window screen. They dried up beautifully in just a couple of days and we really enjoyed the dried apricots all winter long. I love your blog – can’t wait to see what you guys do next!

    • says

      Drying apricots would be tasty! Or even making a fruit leather… we hope to get some sort of dehydrator setup in the future, at least a DIY one if not an Excalibur later down the road. We’re also interested in trying some chutneys as that seems to be a good way to use up fruit without using a jam… so many options! When life gives you apricots, make apricot stuff in some form or another!

      • says

        Try the dehydrator thread at permies.com for suggestions. I am going to try the radiant heat one on metal roofing this year for batches to large for my electric dehydrator.

  6. Paula Lamontagne says

    I have been canning a long time. I pressure can vegetable with no salt. This includes beans, carrots, beets, peas, turnips etc. I have had the same pressure canner for years now. It holds 7 quarts and I find it more than adequate. I had a bigger one but found it took too long to come to pressure. My husband and me grow a fair size garden, pick saskatoons and blueberries and cranberries. We also drink wild mint tea and tamarac tea. We cut firewood for the winter and heat our place here with a wood stove. We did live off the grid for 8 years and just got hydro 3 years ago. We are both in our senior years now.

    • says

      Sounds self-sufficient Paula! Sounds like a good mix of garden food and wild food to me. I can definitely see the importance of finding a balance between a large pressure canner and one that comes to pressure quickly. We haven’t tried pressure canning yet but it’s in the very near future :-)

  7. Tylene says

    So, many years ago, when we lived in New Mexico, we took my mother-in-law on a camping trip. Melba liked to say that she was born in the wrong century. She made her own lye soap, her own candles, needlework, and was huge into canning, (all before Pinterest!) She convinced me that we needed to make prickly pear jelly. Ugh! Just in case you don’t know what happened next, we both ended up with hundreds of teeny tiny prickly pear spines called glochids in our hands. Now, when I buy pp jelly at the store, I always remember that experience. Now, it makes me smile. Not so much then.

    • says

      Hahaha that’s so funny Tylene! Did she not have experience making pp jelly before? There is a plant called a stinging nettle we just found out about and apparently it’s edible but completely covered in spines that “sting”, but supposedly they fall off them boiled… we could have a similar experience in our future. At least it’s good memory now! I’ve never heard of prickly pear jelly… might have to buy a jar if I see it anywhere.

      • Tylene says

        No, she didn’t have experience with prickly pears cactus being from Ohio. The jelly is excellent over cream cheese, served with crackers. TJ’s has. It’s delicious!

        • says

          I’ll ask my mom to send me one in the next care package, hehe! I also have a big jar of huckleberry pepper jelly and thimbleberry jelly to send down to Mammoth for you all to enjoy 😉

  8. says

    My daughters’ piano teacher has a pecan tree in her yard. We pick up the pecans every year, and they let us keep as much as we want. They’re older and don’t want to crack them.

  9. Pat DeLang says

    Just found you through MEN post…I do green tomato mincemeat, crabapple jelly, rhubarb strawberry jam, rhubarb ginger marmalade, etc el! Also pressure can soups and veg as we have no freezer.

    I have 2 suggestions…a book called “Putting Food By” which covers well freezing, canning, drying, pickling, and root cellaring; and the magazine ” Backwoods Home”.

    PFB was originally published in 1973, and has been through multiple editions over the years.

    Backwoods Home is a self- reliance themed publication, based in Oregon. I highly recommend them!

    • says

      Hey Pat! Sounds like some great canned goods you have! We just got a bunch of rhubarb and trying to figure out what to make with it. Backwoods Home Magazine is something I’ve picked up here and there but isn’t something we’re subscribed to…. that and MEN both have so many great self-sufficient articles! Great reading material for sure! I’ll also make note of that book if we need additional preserving inspiration!

  10. says

    I’m like you in going for the least work option–but I go further I guess as I would NEVER blanch and peel apricots. Apricot are so easy to halve and seed, then they go in the food processor so peel bits are small, then into the recipe. Most amazing preserves and jam. Need to forage some apricots now….

  11. Paula says

    To avoid using store pectin – I started adding apples to stuff because there is natural pectin in the apple & peels; so my favorite is blueberry apple compote preserves but apples go with everything. You just need to pick tart or sweet etc. green grannysmiths seem to do the best pectin work when needed.
    slice them thin and let cook quite a bit longer before adding the other fruit – you want the peel to disolve mostly to release the pectin.

    dry fruit bits are wonderful to have in winter to put in your oatmeal on cold mornings so it would be worth the cost of a dehydrator + vacumn sealer. Lots of folks get rid of these after realizing they arent going to use them, so craigs list etc and thrift stores sometimes have good ones. Costco does.

    or maybe a neighbor would allow some time sharing with theirs? perhaps in exchane for some of your jam???

    • says

      Great tips! We’ve been not using pectin all together and most everything comes out great… but when in need, an apple can seem to be a better alternative. Pectin isn’t cheap really… apples are! We know folks with a dehydrator and other folks that would probably let us plug it in outside of their house in an unused outlet… our bodies aren’t huge fans of dehydrated fruit, but I’m sure we’ll experiment with it anyways in the future! Fruit leather anyone?!?

  12. Tonya Hainey says

    You do not need to blanch apricots just cook them with desired water usually 1/2 c water and 1/4c vinegar to 4c fruit for jam recipes just use blender or emulsifier you will never know the skins are in there. Skins provide your tartness and for nectar after you cook them down and soften then add desired sugar or honey and water always depends on how you like your nectar consistency.

  13. Maria says

    Hiya! I was reading over your post because I’m getting prepared to do some apricot jam in a few weeks. I’ve been canning for about 8 years now but love a good new recipe.

    A tip for your future apricots, I’ve heard that you don’t actually need to skin them but this is my first batch of apricot jam so I don’t know from experience. Also, I noticed that a few of your apricots in the pictures has a green undertone to them. That means they aren’t ripe and while they may get soft, won’t ripen or get sweeter. I’m betting those are the ones that gave you the most trouble while blanching and cutting. I had that same experience when I first started canning peaches. I read some article, I think on Mother Earth News about how to pick the best stone fruits and having that yellowish undertone on peaches and apricots is key. I haven’t had a bad one since I read that!

    Another good book you might enjoy is Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry. She covers water bath and pressure canning (in a talking to your mom in the kitchen type of style), but also covers preserving meats and dairy. Really interesting great book :)

    Good luck in your foraging!

    • says

      Thanks for the tips Maria! We tasted these when we picked them so even though they weren’t all 100% ripe, they were incredibly sweet, so we heard the real danger is when they aren’t sweet and aren’t ripe… they will continue to ripen once picked but not get any sweeter. In any case, our stuff all came out amazing! The under-ripe ones were way easier to blanch too. But we’re rookies so don’t take anything we do as advice hahaha! Best of luck with your apricot jam! I’m sure whatever you do it will be amazing… hard to go too wrong with fruit and sugar!

  14. Suzanne says

    Apricot jam (preserves) is my absolute favorite!!! That also goes for the nectar…..
    To be honest, I’ve never stuck any of my jams into the canner. I don’t own a pressure canner. I have an “upside down” water canner. It uses only 6 to 8 cups of water. The jars sit over the water and are surrounded by steam. There are two vent holes in the large lid. When I see the steam coming out, I start the timer, processing the same length of time as in a regular water bath canner, according to my ball blue book. Over the years I’ve made strawberry, raspberry, strawberry-rhubarb, peach, blueberry, sour cherry – YES, PITTING IS THE WORST!!!!!
    The largest amounts of jam production in one day have been:blueberry 10pt, 15 1/2pt and another year it was strawberry 19 pt, 12 1/2pt.
    As far as storing in the cellar, they have lasted up to 4 years without any trouble.i do use store bought pectin in my jams.
    I’ve also had marathon pickling sessions, using Mrs Wages pickling spice packets and then adding a homegrown garlic clove to each jar before sealing it. My most exhausting day was 42 pints of bread and butter pickles. That was 3 peck. (We live near a Mennonite-run produce auction….) The pickles have been great presents for friends and family.
    If you like spicy, try pickling jalapeño. Pickled garlic is also delicious. All the receipts I got from the ball blue book.
    Thank you for all the wonderful pictures. My mouth waters every time!!

    • says

      You’re a trooper! Sounds like you have a lot of canning experience under your belt! We haven’t done that many jams at one time yet but today I did 12 quarts of juice and 15 half-pints of jam (two different types) and it takes a lot of energy! We’ve been ending every night at around 9:30 or 10pm. I picked up some pickling salt so try something picked… the garlic in the pickles sounds great, and Jesse picked up a lot of jalapenos that I no longer have a use for so I could try pickling those as well. And the Ball Blue Book rocks!

      • Suzanne says

        WOW, I’ve never ventured into two different items I. The same day!!!

        I did forget to mention my upside down canner takes way less time for processing. When I first got it, I was using it and my water bath canner at the same time for tomatoes. I could do three batches, before the water bath one was finished with the second batch. ( that year I had over 100lbs of tomatoes….I was seeing a lot of red)
        I also use the Roma Food Strainer. I have the four additional attachments. It is GREAT for making grape juice. Gets rid of seeds and skin at the same time. I also use the salsa attachment for processing tomatoes for sauces.
        Just had a sneak peek at your cherry day blog, the pictures are beautiful…..

        • says

          This is the second or third time today I have seen someone talk about a steam canner… I’ll have to look into it! You’d think more folks would be talking about it but maybe it’s a newer technology? That’s a lotta tomatoes… sounds awesome! The Roma Food Strainer sounds interesting as well. We’re all about having the right tools for the job so we’ll look into this. Yes, cherry day ended up in some real beauties!

  15. Aparecida says

    Just to make sure (still regarding the quince) :)
    When using quince for other recipes, save the scrubbed skin, core and seeds.
    Cover the scrubbed skin, core and seeds in water enough to cover about 1 inch. Boil gently until the liquid is reduced

    Strain and discard the solids and save the precious liquid.
    You will see that when cold this liquid will have some jelly-like look to it.

    Note: contrary to apples, quince has a very hard core. Please be careful when opening a quince fruit.
    Yes, if apples grown in your area, you can grow quince for sure.
    One website to check for (heirloom) fruit trees: “Trees of Antiquity”,
    https://www.treesofantiquity.com/
    You can get them as bare root. I heard you have to order well in advance. Late winter is good time to plant bare root.

  16. Ann P says

    Mother always canned huckleberries in quart jars, and she used them for pies or for eating as is. I’m in my mid 70s and I remember this vividly from my childhood. It seemed to take forever for a little girl to partially fill her pail while Mother filled more than one.

  17. Colleen Dunn says

    If you have not yet done so, you might like to check out http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipes/ (the online recipes for Ball). I make the Zesty Peach BBQ sauce every year, but do not puree. The processing time for the BBQ sauce and salsa are the same so I feel comfortable leaving the fruit in pieces. I serve this alongside pork and chicken and friends of mine like it with beef.
    As a single person, I do appreciate a jar of jelly or jam as I prefer the home version to store bought, but won’t do the work of canning the fruit. Your family, friends, and neighbors might love a some jelly. (Did you mention you will do this? Sorry if I missed it.)

    • says

      Good to know! I didn’t know their recipes were available online. Peach BBQ sauce sounds amazing! We have been giving jelly and jams to neighbors, friends and family left and right! They say they love it, and it feels great to give!

  18. Ali says

    This is what you need for your apricot nectar! https://www.amazon.com/VICTORIO-VKP250-Strainer-Sauce-Maker/dp/B001I7FP54/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1472579728&sr=8-1&keywords=victorio
    It makes tomato sauce/apple sauce canning a breeze. It would also be good for your thimbleberry jam to remove seeds. I use it when I make raspberry jam. My hubs thinks I’m crazy because I put the raspberries through the food mill to remove all the seeds but then I add a few spoons full back in. I love the seeds in raspberry jam but leaving them all in is just too many. It was like equal ratios of seeds to fruit!
    Some other options for your fruit harvest/canning. I know you have limited space but investing in an upright freezer (so much better than a chest) to keep in your cabin would be invaluable if you have the electricity for it. You can freeze the apricots whole with skins on or halve them to remove the pit and have them on hand for smoothies or ice cream making or kombucha flavoring or pie making, etc, etc. Same with all the berries. I flash freeze everything before I baggy it up so it doesn’t stick and its so nice to pull that frozen fruit all winter for various things. I make a lot of jam as well but we only eat so much jam a year. Last year my pigs got a couple dozen jars that were super old. You can also puree any fruit then freeze in quart jars until apple season comes around and make different flavored apple sauces and fruit leathers when you get a dehydrator. If you have good sweet apples, it requires no sugar! Just lemon juice (2 T per quart jar and 1 T per pint jar). Use about 3/4 apples sauce to 1/4 other fruit. Also, look for pectin and other canning stuff at the end of summer and stock up as it goes on clearance. I have found lids on clearance for 25 cents and last year my friend found pectin for 50 cents! I use pectin for my jams only. I prefer a well jelled consistency for my jam that goes on toast. The preserves I use more for sauces so I don’t care if they are not as jelled. Lastly, you are doing the right thing water bath canning. You open yourself up to a breeding ground of botulism if you skip this step. I have relatives that still just hot pack and invert the jars. No thanks! It’s too risky. If you’re interested in learning more, check your county extension office. They may offer a master canner program in your area.

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