From what I could tell on my gastronomical tour of the central North Island, it’s the fruit basket of New Zealand! (Okay, I suspect there may be other ‘fruit baskets’ too – I’m saving those for my next holiday!)
All those roadside stands selling bulk fruit are just irresistible to me. I get a mad urge to make lots of jam!
Oh and then I get Bob Marley stuck in my head for about a week!
I made apricot jam and strawberry jam. Actually, the strawberry jam is more like strawberry sauce – I never can seem to get the pectin right for strawberry jam!
Two jam experiments
Firstly, I tried making my own pectin for the first time. This basically involves cooking a bunch of under-ripe apples and then letting the pectin drain out. Have to say it didn’t seem to make much difference to my jams (I did some with home-made pectin and some without).
Secondly, I added shelled apricot stones / nuts to my apricot jam in a cheesecloth bag. This is a French tradition shared by David Liebovitz. Theoretically this adds a slight almondy bitterness to the jam (almonds and apricots, plums, etc. are related). My jam tastes good, but I can’t say I particularly noticed the benefit of the stones – which were really hard to crack!
One final thought on this. I can’t tell you how amazing apricots smell as you prepare them. This might be the olfactory experience of 2013 so far.