A day in the kitchen

    
   Rose Apricot Conserves

I found these apricots first at the Monterey Market last Friday. They were  purple-black on the outside, with a slight haze of fuzz that gave them a silvery sheen. Super ripe, so I knew it was cooking time. At 98 cents a pound I could not go wrong. Except I didn’t buy enough, and they were all gone the next day, with no hope of more. Cooled my heels over the weekend, researching the variety. They have a short season, mid-July to mid-August, perhaps, and maybe they are the same as Black Velvet apricots, or you might find them as pluots or apriums. Like their skins, the naming gets a little fuzzy.  Apriums and Pluots are distinct crossbreeds of fruit, incase you needed to know (and you can do your own research, thank you).
Lucky for me, the Berkeley Bowl yielded a good selection on Monday of what they called Rose Aprium/Pluots (I didn’t feel the need to explain the difference-if you’ve ever been there, you know how important it is to keep moving-plus I was playing Russian Parking Roulette with only 5 minutes on my tag). Snagged three bags of the ripest I could find, got out with no wait and no parking ticket!
I worked with 12 pounds of them, but here is the recipe for
4 lbs /1.85Kg (16-17 pcs of fruit) very ripe and dark Rose Apricots (pluots/apriums, whatever…)
1 tsp/ 5gr ground ginger
Sugar to taste(add later)
9×13 or two 9×9  glass or ceramic baking dish
enough canning jars to hold 4 cups of cooked fruit (WHAT? yes, it really cooks down)
Large spoon or ladle
Big pot for sterilizing jars and reprocessing if needed
tongs for lifting jars out of really hot water
Wide-mouth funnel (check out my nifty cut-off plastic half-gallon top)

                                        

Preheat oven to 350F (177C)
Wash the fruit, remove any lurking stems, and remove the pits. This most easily done with the fruit in the pan, as the juices don’t get all over the counter.  Of course, then there’s more juice to bake off, so you choose. (Put pits aside in a small saucepan if there’s lots of pulp on them, to make some yummy fruity sauce*) As you are pitting, you can chop the fruit up as small as you like (10 mins or so). This will make it less gloppy when you are using it later. Stir in the ginger.

uncooked, ready to roast
When the oven is ready, stick the pan on a rack in the center of the oven, uncovered. Check every 20 mins, stirring in anything that looks like it is getting too browned,until the skins have turned everything a gorgeous deep rose color. The consistency should be thick like cooked rhubarb. Smaller pans will cook the fruit down faster, I believe. My large pans needed over 100 minutes!  One way to reduce the carbon footprint is to put this in with another roasting item, be it animal or vegetable. A higher temp will also reduce the time, but will require more frequent checking. 
This gives you plenty of time to cook the pits* and prepare your canning supplies, following the directions on the box of jars, or those in the Joy of Cooking Jellies and Preserves section, or your favorite method. Have everything ready when you take the fruit out.
partially cooked 

When the fruit has reached the right consistency and color, remove the pan from the oven (if using two pans, keep one in the oven to keep the fruit hot). Taste the molten mixture, and add a little sugar if you need, maybe 2 teaspoons for the whole batch. Spoon the fruit into a jar up to 1/4 “, wipe the edges if needed, place a moisture-free lid on top, move to a cooling rack, repeat until fruit is all gone. Clean those pans while you wait (anxiously) for that satisfying ‘snap’ that tells you the jars have sealed properly. Twist the dried bands on the jars to fingertip tightness, label with contents & date, brag, and give some away.

uh-oh, these lids did not seal properly (flex lid still ‘up’).  Store these jars in the fridge, or re-process as follows:
Canning pot or Big pot to hold your jars with enough room to cover with 1-2″ water
Towels, if you don’t have a canning pot with a rack
unsealed jars, with bands on
Arrange towels on the bottom of the pot, and along the sides, placing the jars in the folds, so they won’t touch each other during reprocessing. Tuck in any remaining towel to snug everything up.
Pour enough water over the jars to cover 1-2″.
Place lid on pot, bring water to a gentle boil. Let boil for 10 mins, turn off heat, let jars sit another 5 mins, remove to a ooling rack, and allow to cool and reseal in next 12 hours. Cross your fingers. If they don’t seal, its refrigerator time!

Phew, re-processing worked!
Final results. 12.5 pounds of fruit yielded 11.5 cups of conserves 14 oz of pits. As is often the case, I overdid it. Conventional wisdom suggests working in smaller batches.
*The Pits
Put pulpy pits in a small saucepan, with some water, a little sugar, the juice of half a lemon, and the zest thereof. Cook for 5-10 mins, let cool. Squish the pits between your fingers to remove any pulp that you can, and discard the pits. Add a splash of water and cook a little longer if you believe in the germ theory of disease. Cool and store in the fridge.

Yellow sauce from the pits, red from the whole fruit. 

 It is YUM!