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.

Comments

  1. I am laughing so hard because I cant even tell you how many times i have gleaned wild cherries or mullberries from the grass around a neighbor's tree as a kid and I am perfectly fine! In fact, we used to "harvest" the rainier cherries and black berries along a cut through in our neighborhood until the owners put up signs and asked us to leave some for their own use! My only concern around here now is pesticide sprays, but I pretty much know who is spraying and who isnt. Thanks for hosting and posting on the two for tuesday recipe blog hop! :) Alex@amoderatelife

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  2. Apricot is not common in my country. I would like to try this, but need to get supply first. :)
    Nice recipe.

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  3. I love apricots!!

    I am a new follower on twitter (CandidaJourney), hope you stop by my blog and follow me back, either on my blog or on twitter.

    I am following you from Tuesday Recipe Blog Hop, My Journey With Candida
    My entry this week is Make Your Own Nut Butters
    http://myjourneywithcandida.blogspot.com/2010/03/make-your-own-nut-butter.html

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  4. I WISH I could find fruit falling on the ground near me! This sounds fantastic. Love the sweet and salty.

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  5. There is nothing like fruit fresh from the tree, and your apricots look lovely. Like the recipe too!

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  6. Just look at all those apricots laying there waiting for you to bring them home!! Wowza! I agree...One bite of the perfectly ripened juicy tree apricot is better than a whole lb. of them from a grocery store...hard and flavorless. Gorgeous recipe...I'd totally love to top a wheel of brie w/ it...stick in the oven for a bit...then go crazy!!! Gorgeous =)

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  7. Your description of picking up the apricots most certainly brought back some childhood memories. A nice recipe as well.

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  8. Wonder why someone would let apricots fall to the ground like that? Good thing you got to them! Great idea pairing sweet & ripe apricots with capers. Love that sweet and salty combo, although I do like girlichef's suggestion of adding a nice gooey wheel of brie.

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  9. I am with Joanne. I don't even have a ground near me to find any kind of fruit! :(

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  10. I love that you are able to glean the apricots - I know they taste even heavenlier since they are free! Great addition to Two for Tues!!!

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  11. What a wonderful philosophy your site has. And this article is great too--You're absolutely right about being trained to view fruit as perfect, shiny things. I completely agreed with your description of how it's supposed to look--"of this earth". In my Quechua language we describe the things we grow as literally "that which the earth gives." So pleased to have found you through Two for Tuesday.

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  12. Joanne and Tigerfish - Some of us are just lucky that way :) For the rest, store-bought can be yummy too.

    Christy- You are right, free food always tastes better.

    Liz- I've found that through collecting my own food and gardening, I've become so much more grateful for the gift of it all. I don't cut off thick chunks of stem and root end. Instead, I savor as much food as possible. It's really put my in touch with how precious food is.

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  13. I love this! I've posted before on urban u-pick farms, lol!!! I'm constantly scouring neighbors yards for fruit. I have a couple of doors to knock on this year. I really like what you did with your soup. What an interesting soup. I'm so sad as I haven't been able to find any apricots this year :( Very inspirational.

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  14. I love apricots - they epitomise summer for me, and I agree that one piece of fruit picked or fallen straight from the tree is worth a dozen bagged at the supermarket. At a cooking masterclass I once heard Antonio Carluccio describe supermarkets as "distributors of mediochrity" - that stuck with me ever since and he is so right.
    Sue

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  15. Diana- Urban u-pick farms. I love that! Gonna use it in the future ;)

    Couscous- It's scary to think what lessons we've learned from the modern supermarkets and megamarts.

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  16. Wow. I would never have thought of combining apricots with capers! What are you eating it with?

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  17. Hi Elizabeth - I've tried it on all sorts of things, as a glaze on pork, as a topping for a hamburger, on a slice of aged white cheddar, to finish boiled carrots. It's sweet and salty, so makes a great partner with all sorts of foods.

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  18. I never would have thought of combining apricots and capers either, but I can just imagine how good they would taste. That sweet salty thing is always a good idea! We'd probably almost call your jam a chutney here in England, and use it on ham or other cold meats, or definitely with cheese (I'm thinking cheddar too!). Thank you for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul blog hop - it's perfect for this time of year!

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  19. What a wonderful combination of flavors for your jam! I think it is sidewalk gleaning makes a great companion to foraging and gardening. We have some neighbors that have fruit trees growin gin their yards and they don't like the fruit, so they let us harvest the fruit. Although they don't like the raw fruit they do like the jams, sauces, breads and cakes that I make with the fruit, so I share what I make with them. Thanks for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul Hop. Sidewalk gleaning is a great way to save money and reduce waste. I hope your post inspires readers to knock on their neighbors' doors and ask to glean the excess fruit.

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  20. As a kid my dad and I would saddle the horses and ride in the evenings and on weekends, checking cattle, fences, etc. We always carried our saddle bags and would come home with fruit of every description in season...mostly wild but some from generous neighbors.

    Great post and thanks for sharing at the hearth and soul hop.

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  21. And, I forgot to mention that many cities now have programs which take advantage of unwanted urban fruit. In my own town, there's Denver Yard Harvest. Check out your area, the collected fruit always goes to feed the hungry :)

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  22. I was researching unusual apricot jam recipes, and your photo caught my eye. Stunning idea for a jam, can't wait to give it a go! Thanks for the recipe.

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  23. That sounds sublime! Capers!!! Mmmmm!!! Never would thought to pair the two. Thank you for the serendipitous inspiration!

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