The fresh ripe fruits of summer are just starting to come to market now...and I'm so anxious to cook and bake with all of them! It's hard to pick a favorite one, they are all so wonderful.
I remember picking fresh raspberries with my Great Grandmother when I was just a little girl. We were lucky enough to share a birthday, and I was her first great-grandchild, and I'm told that as she got older and her memory started to go, that she always remembered me and my name. She lived in her little house in Decorah, Iowa until she was into her 80's, and her small white house was SURROUNDED with gardens of fruit, vegetables, and flowers. The flowers towered over me when I was little, and I have wonderful memories of butterflies and sunshine every time I was with her.
She also had a huge glass jar by her front door that was filled to the brim with seashells - where in the world she gathered them from in the northeastern part of Iowa, I have no idea, but she would always invite us to take one shell from the jar when we would come to visit her.
We would also pick wild blueberries deep in the woods surrounding the farmhouse, big metal buckets full of them. And magically, pint jars of wonderful apricot jam, raspberry jam, and blueberry preserves would start to appear by the end of the day.
Homemade jam and preserves are so easy to make, and every time you pull a new jar off the shelf it just feels good, don't you think? Cooking the fruit, sugar and a small amount of juice creates a wonderful fruit puree of flavor.
I love Apricot Jam! I love it on warm, buttery English Muffins, in fresh pastries, or mixed with barbeque sauce and topping chicken breasts. Apricots become quite tangy once cooked, so you will need to taste this as you go to determine if additional sugar is necessary to bring it to your favorite taste.
You can also throw in a splash of kirsch into Apricot Jam for some added kick and flavor. You certainly can save time and money by buying jam at the grocery store, but it sure won't taste like summer or smell like sunshine!