Monday, August 04, 2014

Fat of the Land

I've had two lovely gifts of free fruit lately.  My friend who comments here so wittily as Not Beehive, gave me some local cherries.  Most of these I made into cherry butter.  Last summer, my first attempt at cherry butter,  I was in a rush to cook them down and process the jars before I left for the gym, so I turned up the heat higher than recommended and the result was more like cherry leather than cherry butter.  This time, I was STILL in a rush to get to the gym, but I decided to cook the cherries slowly and save time by not processing the jar.  This was far more successful, and since the yield was one pint, it went straight into the fridge, and we gobbled it up.  It was intensely cherry-flavored, and delicious on buttered toast, although the texture still wasn't quite right.  Either my stick blender is no good, or cherries really resist being purreed. (I used the recipe from Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan.)

The rest of the cherries, we made into tarts. After reading Becky's post about them, I got a hankering to make cherry hand pies.  The recipe (from Bon Appetit) calls for puff pastry and I didn't want to deal with that, so we (mostly Seamus) used Alice Water's recipe for pate sucrée, and the Bon Appetit recipe for the cherry hand pie filling.  These tarts were a real treat!

We gobbled two tarts before I had a chance to take a picture.

I was reading South Wind Through the Kitchen a few weeks ago, and there was a recipe for "apricot cheese" which I wanted to try, but store-bought apricots are awful.  So you can imagine my delight when one of my work friends offered to share part of a bushel of apricots she had gotten from a family farm in upstate New York.  That night I did an unprocessed test batch, because at the end of a long work day, I don't have the energy to sterilize and process the jars.

"Apricot Cheese" sounds unappetizing, but it's really just a very smooth jam.  Apricots are easy to prepare because you don't have to peel them and the pits pop right out.  Elizabeth David's recipe tells you to steam the apricots and then push them through a seive or a food mill.  Once that's done you cook them with sugar (one pound of sugar for every pint of milled apricots) until it "begins to candy around the edges."  I wasn't sure what that looked like, so I just cooked them at a good rolling boil until a spoonful of jam, dropped onto a cold saucer, had the consistency I wanted.  This batch went straight to the refrigerator, and Seamus reports it is delicious, stirred into oatmeal.  I like it paired with almond butter on toast.  (I can't see apricot jam with peanut butter.)  Elizabeth David recommends it as a filling for a jam omelet.  What does the jam taste like? If I wanted to be really corny, I'd tell you it tastes like sunshine, but mostly it tastes like apricots.

Over the weekend, I did the rest of the apricots, this time processing them properly so that they can live in the pantry.  Elizabeth David says that for an enhanced flavor, you should crush a few of the apricot pits and push the kernal through your food mill with the apricots.  I can't say I noticed any difference in taste between the batch with the apricot kernals and the one without, but smashing the pits is fun.  (I used a small sledgehammer.)

Making the puree with the apricot kernals


  1. Happy to hear I inspired someone to make a better looking tart than my own.

  2. Wow. You have me drooling over here. What bounty.

  3. Apricot cheese --is that sort of like calling lemon pudding "lemon curd"? Sounds similar, and wonderfully tasty. I love apricots, but haven't had a good one since I was a kid.

  4. I sit (too lazy to stand) cowed by your productivity. The most I did with some of those cherries was pit a few and throw them in the freezer.

  5. Hi there! I found you over at Green Girl's blog. Wow! Everything looks so delicious, but you had me laughing out loud at the snozzberries! :-)

  6. Every summer I swear I will make my own salsa/dressing/whatever. Every summer I fail to do that thing. I applaud your productivity! Ignore my jealousy. It's harmless. :)

  7. I love cherries so much that every summer I gorge on them for weeks on end. I pit pound after pound to freeze for the winter, I snack on them raw, I make cakes and pies, and I find any way I can to eat as many as possible while they're in season.