When fruit and vegetables come from the market rather than our own land, it's easy to forget that preserving began as a way to keep the bounty from going to waste, not a weekend project with a shopping list. This week we are sharing the preserved foods experts can't live without, and today we turn to cookbook author and seasonal food champion Deborah Madison, who reminds us that when life gives you local apricots, you make lots of apricot jam — because you might not see another crop for seven years.
If you could only make one type of preserved food, what would it be?
It would be something special and luscious that I have lots of. Apricots are my favorite fruit to put up.
I adore apricot jam and we get a good crop of apricots about once every seven years in Northern New Mexico, so they are really worth preserving. The first year I lived in New Mexico was a great apricot year. I made a ton of jam and gave most of it away, assuming there'd be more fruit the next June. I didn't know then that I wouldn't see another local apricot for years, so now, when we have them, I jump on the opportunity to make a good jam that's not too sweet so you can taste the fruit.
I always include some of the cracked seeds for their bitter almond flavor, and a vanilla bean. Sometimes a little lavender, but not too much; it can overpower.
Once preserved, what do you do with it?
I give it as gifts. I use it in tarts. I fold it into whipped cream and crème fraîche to make a sauce for my olive oil cake. Or I stir it into yogurt. And it's jam, so all the things you can do with jam.
Thank you, Deborah!