My wife is into making jams and marmalades.
In her laudable efforts she prefers to use local produce and ideally, to use fruit that we have hand picked ourselves or that someone nice like a neighbour might have picked and given to us.
Mallorca, the Mediterranean island where we live, is particularly reputed for its almonds, strawberries, figs, oranges and apricots. Now the apricot season is upon us; now is the time to harvest apricots. This time last year we went out with our children and friends and an armada of plastic buckets. We came home, proudly, with perhaps a hundred kilos of the ripe little Prunus Armeniaca. We could have had more, but my wife could not see herself making tons of apricot jam.
But this year it is all different. There are no apricots this year in Mallorca. On a tree that might have been laden with thousands of apricot fruits last year, there may be five or eight or eleven fruits this year. Or one, or none. So there won’t be any home made apricot jam in our household, this year.
We are all a bit puzzled about this apparent conspiracy of the apricots. But we have an inkling that a similar disappointing thing may have occurred a few years back.
Our local farmer friend, Sebastian, who so generously offers us the free range of his apricot orchard every year, knew what all this was about. The apricot tree, he said, usually has a cycle of two good years, followed by one poor one. The tree needs some time off to regenerate. Isn’t nature clever?
Apparently there are other trees that have a similar crop cycle, such as plums, or the edible acorn of the Mediterranean oak tree. Most people here do not eat the acorns any longer but the farmers’ sheep and pigs do, and there is a great commotion amongst sheep (and pigs) when there is a year with no acorns. Well, there is a great commotion amongst pigs this year as well, due to the lack of apricots.
As the Latin name for the apricot suggests, Prunus Armeniaca, this fruit belongs to the family of prunes and has its origins in Armenia. To make today’s post a slightly more interesting one, you might be interested to learn that my wife has Armenian roots on her mother’s side. Hence, you might want to read about an Armenian apricot jam recipe:
In order to make the best Armenian apricot preserve, called Korizov Tsirani Mooraba, you have to have large, mature apricots. The recipe is unique in that it includes the sweet kernels of the apricot pits, a delicious touch virtually unknown in the West which gives the jam a surprisingly slight hint of almond flavour. Pits from small, runty apricots don’t yield an adequate nut when cracked.
But whatever, it is bad apricot news, this year. At least where we live.