Urban Sidewalk Gleaning - Apricots (Apricot Caper Jam)
So, by now, you are well acquainted with my love of foraging. My year has felt so much richer and full of discovery because of foraging. But searching out wild goodies is just one way to forage. Another great method for collecting free food is urban gleaning. How many times have you walked past a sidewalk covered in rotting fruit, and felt it a waste? As long as the fruit has fallen onto a public area, you can collect it! If you are collecting in a neighborhood and worried about someone being upset with your collecting, you can always knock on the door and ask permission. Chances are pretty good that if the homeowner is letting the fruit fall to the ground, they'll be more than happy for you to pick it up. And it's the courteous thing to do. But I'd advise you to also be well acquainted with the laws in your area.
Oh, what's that? You think it's icky, picking up bruised fruit from the ground. No, it's not. Really. Let's try to escape the artificial image of food created by grocery chains - where every apple is perfectly formed and colored and polished to a shine. Produce is of this earth - dirty and misshapen and sometimes bruised and bug-eaten. I'd rather have one bite of a tree-ripened sidewalk gem, than a whole case of tasteless chemical-ridden gmo replicants from the store. Look at the apricot (Prunus sp.) in my palm. Doesn't it look heavenly? It was!
I ended up collecting enough apricots to make something nummy. Because of the stunning orange color of the apricots, I was tempted to make a tart. But that seemed like too much work in the heat. Eventually, inspiration hit, and my heart told me to pair the apricots with capers. Brilliant! The briny and piny capers are a surprising foil to tree-ripened apricots. Excuse me for a sec while I pat my own back, but this is one of the tastiest recipes I've come up with in a long time.
To make apricot-caper jam, dip the apricots in boiling water for 30-45 seconds, then remove and let cool to the touch. Slip the skins from them, and use your fingers to remove the pits and tear the fruit into small chunks. Place the apricot pieces into a pan, along with 1/4-1/2 c. of water, to keep them from scorching. Add sugar to taste, then boil the fruit over medium-high until nicely thickened, then remove from the heat. Since capers are a strong flavor, add them to taste. You're are looking for the capers to strike a balance with the apricots, without letting their flavor dominate.
If you've got enough apricots that you'd like to can this recipe, I'd recommend using Pomona's Universal Pectin, and following the label instructions. It's a fantastic pectin which doesn't require sugar to set!
I'm sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul Hop, and Real Food Wednesday.