Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The dogs a glutton

The last few apricots are sitting on the shelf in the kitchen. Just when you think you can’t bear the sight of any more, they are finished. I have had to put these up a shelf. Lady, our dacshund, has taken to helping herself and has been leaving kernels and under ripe or bruised fruit all over the house. Of course she will only eat (and chase) the perfectly ripe ones. Now we are down to the final couple of kilos, they suddenly become precious – soft furry concentrated sunshine, picked warm from the tree, with juices dripping - so sensual .
We have had a bumper crop of stone fruit thanks to a cold snap and the lack of hail during spring. I have tried to be sensible about managing the apricot tree this year. It was radically pruned last year but a diet of soy whey, its position is next to the compost heap and above the septic tank has  will ensured this tree will tower over the shed roof again!
The accessible parts of the apricot were thinned after fruit set and one large lower branch netted so the fruit could sun ripen for eating. The ring necked parrots helped thin the upper branches, preventing any limb damage.
I picked most of the crop just as they began to change colour then laid them in single layers on trays and in baskets to ripen further. (That’s why Lady could reach them – the kitchen looked like a fruit shop for a couple of weeks.) Each day I checked them for marks and processed a few kilos.
I have frozen most of them, lightly stewing them first. I am not fond of dried apricots and have become realistic (finally!) about how much apricot jam the family can eat. I did make one batch and can always make more from the frozen fruit later if I choose.
Lady was quite annoyed all day yesterday without her fruit snacks. Today she was smug. On the rug we found a partially chewed under ripe Satsuma plum. Another plum lay in a purple pool under the table. They are obviously not ripe yet!

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