Flags are waving from the tops of poles, the sun is fiery in the sky. The first fruits are ripening on vine and branch, and the young birds of spring have learned to fly and sing. July. The heart of summer, the center. One might even say the essence. Beach towels, sunhats, barbecue, long evenings that stretch into night.
The spirit of summer is perhaps most embodied by the foods we eat, available only in the heat of the season; stone fruits, melons, tomatoes. And yes, zucchini.
We've all heard tales, of boxes of zucchini abandoned on a neighbors' doorstep in the dead of night. The glut of produce that a single zucchini can produce boggles the mind, and can drive a gardener to desperate measures.
We'd like to share them with you, so that no one of our community is driven to commit Anonymous Zucchini Abandonment. Step back from such drastic measures. Step into the kitchen. Create something delicious. We're here to help...
FULL ARTICLE: Zucchini Pasta Ribbons: Gluten Free, Raw and Amazing
It's a dry year, here in California. The fruits are small but sweet, the flavors concentrated. It's a season for gathering, for weddings and celebrations, for community to gather in the long evenings when the sun has cooled and sunk. Our Molly's wedding day is drawing near, and many of the staff have joined to help marry our girl off in style.
Somewhere in Corralitos, a pig is still snuffling contentedly beneath the oak trees. The flowers are blooming and waving in the gardens that flank the store. And after hours, in the kitchens of many a staff member and friend, the fruits of summer are being sweetened and cooked down into jars, 8 oz jams of assorted summer fruit flavor, which will become wedding favors on the appointed day.
Step inside one such gathering with us, and find our recipe for apricot jam. Golden orange as a central coast sunset, tangy and rich and faintly sweet, apricots seem a fitting emblem of the intense, but fleeting joys of summer. As though the heat and the light had been concentrated, simmered down into a few spoonfuls of pure golden summer. I'm not exaggerating, even a little. Try it, and see for yourself. Here's a simple recipe that needs nothing but the cheerful fruits and some sugar (because apricots contain lots of natural pectin).
In every basket of fruit there will likely be a few outcasts, fruit that ripened too soon, or was bruised or damaged in transit. After one apricot jam making extravaganza, we had a whole lot of damaged fruit.
Following Sandor Katz's recipe for fruit scrap vinegar, we set some of the bruised fruit to ferment with honey water in a half-gallon jar. 6 days later, it was a partially fermented apricot wine, fuzzy and sparkling and delicious. We left some of it to continue fermenting, after tasting a few small glassfulls.
What a fruit, the apricot... the pits of many dozens of fruit are sitting washed on the counter, awaiting their chance to shine in a DIY amaretto. Yes, the bitter and sweet almond flavor of this distinctive aperitif comes not from nuts but from the kernels inside the pits of apricots! But that's a recipe for another time.
We have more ground to cover at the moment. Miles of it.
The Mountain Feed roadshow has a busy weekend coming up. After teaching our class on homemade pectin at the Westside Farmers' Market on Saturday the 11th, we'll hop into the van, jam-packed with supplies, and roll on down to Venice Beach, where we'll be staffing a booth at the LA Fermentation Festival.
We love that there is even such a thing as a fermentation festival! And we are thrilled to take part in it. There will be fermented foods and beverages of every sort, for sample and purchase; classes, workshops, and booths, showcasing and celebrating the ancient art of fermentation.
Our own Karla will be teaching a class on making a Fermented Nectarine 5 Spice Chutney. If you find yourself in LA July 12, come by the (location) and check it out!
And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go harvest some zucchini.
It’s part of our mission here at Mountain Feed to help you make delicious, sustainable, homemade food more often. Stop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Or, as always, you can do it the old fashioned way and come by the store to speak with one of our in-house experts.