This morning we picked apricots in Berryessa, quite a ways away from our usual haunts. This area of East San José is a sea of suburban homes, shading to the monster as one gains elevation, so it was a surprise to turn the corner and see an apricot orchard lining one side of the street. One orchard that had been broken up into several lots; our home was halfway down the block.

This is the first year that he has not been able to sell his fruit. The big packing houses no longer want to deal with lots of “only” 1,000 lbs of dried apricots; the food contamination issues caused by massive, industrial operations now require the same onerous paperwork for everyone.

We picked almost 1,000 lbs of fresh apricots for distribution, with maybe 200 lbs of culls, and we had to leave 12 trees unpicked when we ran out of time. The homeowner was upset that we couldn’t get to all of the fruit; he asked us several times if we could come back tomorrow, and then had to try to think of how he could put that fruit to good use. It makes me angry that there is no easy way to get all of these beautiful, beautiful apricots into the hands of people in San José that would enjoy them, and that this lovely man is forced to give his fruit away instead of being able to sell it.

But the biggest excitement in all of this was that we were visited by a cockatiel.

It first landed on our shade canopy, chirping cheerfully, then came underneath to visit. It climbed on Bud’s shoulder

and Heather’s hat.

It ate a Sun Chip, and drank some water, and flew into and on top of the truck. It was clearly someone’s pet, and I went to a nearby house to ask whether the occupants knew of a neighbor bird. The woman I talked to said she didn’t know, but she came by with a pet carrier box to take it to a friend who has cockatiels, and promised to look for lost bird fliers.

I left with probably 30 lbs of culls, mostly fruit that was too mushy to distribute. With it, I:

  • Froze two cookie sheets of halved fruit
  • Filled all four trays of my dehydrator
  • Froze 4 cups of puree
  • Prepared 17 cups of ultra-squishy fruit for making jam
  • Baked two loaves of apricot tea bread
  • Froze filling for an apricot pie
  • Made a batch of apricot ice cream
  • Set aside probably 7 lbs of firmer fruit to take to Amie

I have apricots on my own tree; God only knows what I’ll do with them.

One Response to “Excess”

  1. akabini Says:

    Please, please, please, may we commission you to make jam for us Apric0t-Deprived Northerners?
    God, I miss the apricot jam Mom used to make in the old house.
    I wonder if it’s Jens’ Proustian madeleine the way it is mine.

    Seriously – if we pay for jars?
    Pretty please?
    (Mom could drive a batch up in her car when she next drives up…)

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Working to build a local, sustainable food system in San José