Our Living Better With Less group met up again last week and it was good to see everyone after our Christmas break. Unfortunately the Workers Club has let us down yet again so we are on the hunt for a new venue. I will post the new details soon.
The Living Better With Less group is a free interest group for people wanting to live a better life with less money, chemicals and "stuff". We focus on gardening, housekeeping, foraging, preserving and net work together for a simpler but richer life. We meet on the last Thursday of every month except December from 7-9pm.
We focus on seasonal activities and right now in Tasmania, apricots are ripening right now.
If you are able to get hold of some nice firm just ripe apricots they are great for bottling using a water bath method but if they have turned the corner and started to become soft then you might like to consider stewing and then freezing or blending to a thick liquid and dehydrating to a fruit leather.
Fruit leathers can be done in your dehydrator on the solid sheets or you can cut baking paper to fit the trays and this works well too. After a few hours when the leather has become a sticky firm sheet it can be rolled in baking paper and stored in a cool cupboard for lunch boxes and snacks.
We also talked about drying apricot halves in a dehydrator. This can take many hours up to one or two days depending on the size of the fruit. I rotate my shelves from bottom to top to try to get even drying and inspect from time to time removing any ready fruit.
It's important to note that home dried fruit in this way is sulphur free and therefore looks different to the commercially prepared ones. Instead of glowing orange orbs, they are more like burnt umber and have some darkened spots where the concentrated fruit sugars have cooked.
After passing around taste tests they were found to be every bit as delicious.
I have become a big fan of dehydrating. It reduces the size of your crop significantly allowing you to fit kilos and kilos into just a couple of jars. You can opt to solar dry but I find the electric one is very quick and draws very little energy and maintains a lot of colour, especially in herbs. It is a great alternative to freezing where space is often at a premium. I believe in spreading food storage over a number of methods; if anything were to happen to your power supply at least you would not lose all your stores.
And of course, having dried apricots on hand is a must for my most asked for recipe
One thing is for sure, there is no time to lose when you get your hands on a case of apricots from the market or a couple of buckets from a friend, apricots will ripen in a matter of a day or two so be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get them saved for some treats in the winter months to come.