03 August 2011

Valais and their apricots

In Valais during summer, there are stalls all over selling freshly picked apricots from the many trees that line the valley floor. There's also heaps of pear trees but I never seem to see pears for sale. Needless to say, apricots are a huge part of Valais agriculture. Our lovely landlady/friend's Mum/neighbour/french teacher rang our doorbell the other morning and handed over a huge bowl of apricots.

I was rather excited because I had planned at some stage this summer to buy a heap of apricots to make some tasty treats with the local produce. That day I made an 'apricot, frangipane tart'. I even made the short crust pastry to line the base. I was a little worried about pastry because it wasn't holding together very well when I rolled it out so I smooshed it into the tart tin and hoped for the best. The tart turned out really well and was very tasty indeed and I was rather proud of my creation since I was able to make good use of the fresh apricots. We returned the empty bowl back to our landlady along with a slice of the fresh tart. It was nice to be able to pay back the kindness with a tasty treat.

Just excuse the dodgy picture. It was taken on my iPad.
We still had a fair amount of apricots left and they were starting to get a bit old so I thought I would tackle something that I've never made before. I've seen my Mum make it heaps of times but I thought it was about time that I made some jam of my own. I found a good recipe on the net, cut up my apricots, chucked them in a saucepan with some water, sugar and lemon juice and let the heat do the rest. It bubbled away and I was so fascinated by the bubbling mixture that I watched it the entire time it was cooking. Once I was satisfied with the amount that the liquid had reduced I tested it out to see if it would set properly. A website told me to put a bit on a chilled saucer, stick it in the fridge for a few minutes and then stick my finger in it to see if it was set. To my amazement, it was set! I sterilised my jars in the oven, spooned in the mixture and quickly put the lids on so they would seal with the intense heat of the jam and the hot jars. Ah, it was fun! I was quite proud of myself for creating something that we take for granted when we buy it from the supermarket. I think I might make some fresh bread tomorrow morning so I can have some jam on toast for breakfast. I think I'm getting the hang of this whole 'housewife' thing.

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