On Saturday, Sean and I spent the morning picking apricots with Village Harvest. Village Harvest is a local organization that picks unwanted produce and donates it to local food banks. An amazing group of volunteers come together multiple times a week to pick produce in urban orchards and backyards in the Bay Area, and we are delighted to be new members of this great group of people.
Sean picking apricots
Statistics show that 1 in 10 people in the community receive food assistance. The fruit and vegetables picked by Village Harvest are able to provide balanced nutrition amid the typical shelf-stable donations of the traditional food bank.
We also prevent tons of fruit from going to waste. The orchard we picked on Saturday, for instance, was planted by the owner roughly 60 years ago. While it used to be a business for him, the land now is just used to feed his family. He has a small vegetable garden, and it sounds like he uses some of the apricots, but there are far too many for his uses now. Not wanting to waste the fruit his trees grow, he contacted Village Harvest. Instead of roughly one ton of apricots rotting, they can instead feed those in need.
Although most of us don't fantasize about the life of a farm worker, spending a morning or two each month picking fruit is very rewarding. The hours in nature, getting in touch with where our food comes from...it's all something I appreciate. It's also a great time for Sean and me to spend some time doing good together. And we meet such interesting people at the harvests, who always make it fun!
One of the added bonuses of harvesting with Village Harvest is getting to bring home some of the fruit! There are always fruits that are damaged or over-ripe, making them unusable for the food banks. Instead of letting that fruit go to waste, volunteers are able to take it home.
After our first harvest picking oranges, we brought home a bag full of oranges with damaged peels. Since the oranges wouldn't last, we made a large batch of marmalade. This turned into a Mother's Day gift, as well as our own stash for the year. We learned from that first harvest: always find out what we're picking and have some recipes on hand for when we get home with damaged fruit.
This weekend, the apricots were so ripe that there were a lot of squishy "volunteer fruit". Sean and I came home with a large bag of apricots, all of which needed to be used right away! This turned into:
-apricot jam (from the Blue Ball Canning Book)
-apricot orange conserve (from the Blue Ball Canning Book)
snack in the middle of canning: plain yogurt with pot scrapings of the apricot orange conserve. yum!
jam and turnovers
rows and rows of delicious cans
jam on the left, conserves on the right
conserves with their labels, look out for these to become part of holiday gifts!
kumquat marmalade cooling on a towel
Now, what to do with the rest of the apricots? What are your favorite things to do with bunches of apricots?
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