Saturday, December 5, 2009

Fruit Season in the Free State

These two apricot trees are old and gnarled but yield delicious fruit in season

During the exploration of America, English colonists brought the apricot to the New World from Europe, although the cultivars used today are mostly successors of the seedlings brought by Spanish missionaries.

In 1910, U.S. census reported that 96.4% of all apricots grown in the United States were produced in California.

As of 2009, the vast majority of apricots are produced in California, with smaller quantities being produced in Utah and Washington.

Australia is also a fairly large producer: the most prolific region is South Australia, in the zone of Mypolonga, Lower Murray region, as well as the Riverland.

Other Australian states where apricots can be found are Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Victoria.

Why am I posting all this information about apricots?

Clusters of delicious fruit cling to the branches of my apricot trees

The long and the short of it, is that I have two well-established apricot trees in my garden. I have often posted photos of the garden under it but never about these gnarled old trees and their lucious fruit . Since moving into this house nine years ago, these trees have yielded enough fruit in season to make jam for our own personal use.

Mmm, good enough to eat

Last year I didn't make apricot jam. The trees were just beginning to bear when we had a very violent hailstorm which knocked all the fruit off the trees. I have other fruit trees and preserve these offerings as well, but more about them in another post.

This year, however, I have been blessed with abundant fruit on the apricot trees. We have picked bucketsful of apricots for the past two weeks. The children, grandchildren, household staff and even the dogs, (yes, Angie loves apricots; the other dogs ate them too not to miss out) have had their fill of fresh apricots.

Yesterday morning I joined John and David under the apricot tree. It was an absolute pleasure to pick the fruit in the early morning light

Yesterday morning my gardeners, John and David picked all the firm, almost ripe apricots from the trees. (I joined them for a while for the sheer pleasure of picking the fruit.) John washed apricots and brought them into the kitchen. Emily and I immediately began to halve and de-pip the fruit. You need to start making jam very early in the morning in order to beat the heat of the summer day.

By 9.30am we had placed the measured fruit into a large saucepans, added equal amounts of white sugar and set all to boil on the stove. As Emily and I only have three large heavy-bottomed saucepans between us, and we had 15kgs/33lbs of apricots to cook, we worked together until 2.30pm when we eventually sealed last bottle of delicious apricot jam and mopped up the kitchen!

Pure perfection

Our labours yielded 2 1/2 dozen bottles of jam, eight litres of apricot syrup (or coulis) and a small bowl of left-over preserve to to sample. Emily and I divide jams and syrup between us after giving John and David their share. The cost of the jam-making comes out of my household but Emily faithfully collects all the glass jars which are used in both her and my home during the year, cleans them and stores them in my pantry.

I must say, even though it is very satisfying to make your own jam, I was totally exhausted last night after a very hot day of jam-making. Every year I privately decide that this summer I'm not going to make jam. Every year as the fruit begins to ripen, Emily says to me: "When are we going to make jam?"

So every year I succumb and we make jam...

Now for the peaches which are almost ripe and ready for the picking.

You can see my recipe for Apricot Jam on the food blog I started recently. (here)


  1. I had a very prolific apricot tree in Washington state years ago and my neighbor and I made jam. Plus I dried them for snacking. Yum, love apricots. Isn't it nice to eat from your garden all year long.

  2. Jou flukse vrou! My appelkoosboom dra hierdie jaar baie mooi - sal probeer om hierdie jaar [vir die eerste keer in my lewe :-( ] appelkooskonfyt te kook. Het nog nooit die moed gehad om te probeer nie a.g.v. flop met ander konfyt in my jong jong dae!

  3. I wish I lived close I would come and help so I could take home some jam. Bill makes a great apricot pie (Flan)It must have been hot work but surely worth it when you saw your results.We can't grow stone fruit this far north.

  4. Hi Gaelyn;) I love dried apricots (all dried fruit) as snacks and should dry some this year. I'll see once I'm over the jam making of the past two days (I awoke this morning and bottled half a dozen bottles of smooth apricot jam, so am jammed out for now - LOL!)

    Hallo Ida, ja ons vrugte is pragtig hierdie jaar. My resep is "fool-proof" Jy kan hom sien op my nuwe blog sien - die link is op hierdie pos aan die einde.

    diane;) I wish you were near and I'd bring you a couple of bottles The jam is DIVINE so it was worth the hot work! I've tasted Apricot flan but never made it. Is Bill going to post his recipe one day? We can grow soft fruits like peaches, apricots, plums, cherries and pears. Citrus doesn't do too well here, nor harder fruits like apples and pineapples etc. Although I have two quince trees in my garden but don't eat quinces so I don't pick the fruit and I've posted about the pomegranate trees in my garden - I use these fruit pips in a divine salad. Have posted about this before

  5. Apricot jam sounds delicious. Maybe I should plant an apricot tree...

  6. Sounds like you had a very successful day making jam - lots of fun, too ! Oooohhh .... a new blog .... I am off to have a look ;)

  7. Oh, Jo. Apricot jams is my favorite. They don't grow around here at all ... and purchasing enough in proper condition for making jam is an 'iffy' proposition.

    I used to make a batch of apricot-orange marmalade, if I could obtain sufficient 'cots, as the children called them.

    Enjoy your marvelous trees.

  8. Can you grow them in your part of the US, Janie? My friend showed me hers planted two years ago; I'm sure it will bear in another two. Well worth it.

    Hi Lynda;) yes, it's a South African blog which I might post my recipes on for now...

    Eleyne;) I wish I was near, I'd bring you a bottle in a jiffy (lol!) and also a batch of fresh 'cots! There are still many on the tree... Now, Apricot and Orange marmalade, sounds super.


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