Fruit of the Land

We are into early summer here in Livermore and have begun harvesting the fruit of the land. More specifically, we picked our apricots and are midway through the season for our raspberries and boysenberries. This is a drought year (again!), so the crops are smaller than normal. Fruit and berry quality seem good, though, and it has been years since we have had to do anything to control pests or diseases.

Apricot jam. Grandkids can mow through a lot of this, so we canned it by the pint.

We have two kinds of apricot trees: one Katy, an early producer, and two Blenheim (I think), which are more of a mid-season commercial variety. The Katy tree set a lot of fruit but then dropped all but about two apricots. It was like someone reminded the tree that we are in a drought and there would not be enough water to support a normal crop. The two Blenheim, on the other hand, dutifully carried their already-small crop of fruit all the way to the end, when the birds started pecking at the ripening ‘cots. At that point we declared victory, picked the fruit, made jam, and saved a few for eating. Yum!

Boysenberry freezer jam.

We prefer freezer jam when it comes to berries. The jars shown above are the first of three or four batches for the season, depending on how many of the berries find their way into pies or cobblers.

Boysenberry vines act like weeds; so much so that some people advise pruning them with a lawn mower each fall. We don’t go to that extreme, but do appreciate the hardy, self-armored character of the vines. Never mind that I look like I lost a cat fight after picking the fruit.

Raspberry freezer jam, and yes, it looks a lot like the boysenberry jam.

For some reason the raspberry freezer jam, shown above, is almost as dark as the boysenberry jam. We process the whole fruit rather than trying to strain out the seeds, and you can see the evidence in the texture of the product.

Later this season we expect to can tomatoes, our largest crop of the season (other than citrus). When I think back to how my grandparents processed food, it is clear that our work is pretty small compared to their almost-industrial-scale food canning. I remember rows upon rows of canned tomatoes, green beans, beets, and other foods. No freezer jams, but canned fruit to round out meals built from canned vegetables. That is how many of us lived 50-60 years ago. Maybe we could go back to those techniques if necessary, but it is nice to have the luxury not to have to grow and preserve all of our own food. Another dimension of blessings and riches from God’s hands.

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