Apricots and almonds–all whistle now


A-Z challenge - My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties

This is the first in a series of 26 posts, each day in April except Sundays, one letter of the alphabet.

My father planted a wide variety of fruit trees between the farm house and the cowshed. These trees were our source of fresh fruit and the excess each season was stewed, made into jam or bottled and preserved for consumption during winter months.

Apricots 

Fresh from the tree these were delicious. Mum often served apricots cut in half and sprinkled with a little coconut. Fresh cream on the table completed the treat. My father was quite a champion of piling copious quantities of jam and lovely thick cream onto a single slice of bread. He then cut it neatly into four quarters and we watched with anticipation to see if it would reach his mouth without jam or cream sliding off that tiny quarter.

Apricots ripen in the hottest weather and as the season wore on and the ripening quickened, some became soft and suitable only for jam. Lined up around the table my sisters and I stoned and sliced apricots by the bucket load. The softest ones were consigned to the jam pot with firm ones packed carefully into sterilised jars. These were topped with sugar syrup, a rubber band placed carefully around the rim then the Vacola metal lid clipped into place. Jars were stood in boiling water and removed carefully after they were cooked.

The jam pot which bubbled and hissed on the stove needed regular stirring to ensure it did not stick to the pan. There were no non-stick pots or pans in our farmhouse in the fifties and sixties. A spill of hot jam produces a nasty burn, one had to take care. A ladle was used to transfer the hot jam into the previously sterilised jars which were re-used from year to year. It was best to cover the jam while it was still hot. The round cellophane covers had been purchased in advance. In the packets there were also paper labels to record the date and type of jam. One dampened the cellophane cover, stretched it over the top then held it in place with a rubber band. The kitchen after a day of bottling and jam making was a hot and sticky place, no air conditioning or fans.

Almonds

The almond tree yielded well in good years. On a designated day we would gather around the table to shell the almonds. Once the soft outer case had been peeled away it was time to crack the inner shell. I’ll always remember Mum urging us to whistle or sing while we worked, a strategy designed to prevent the consumption of this well-prized product of the orchard. The precious shelled almonds were hidden carefully in the pantry away from marauding mouths and used sparingly throughout the year.

Next up  B  - Bulls in the paddock, baking and bicycling






24 comments:

  1. Hi. Yours is the first one I have read - and you've done yourself proud. I also do genealogy, so I will be enjoying your posts. https://mymorningcupofcoffee.blogspot.com/2017/03/a-z-intro-be-there-or-be-square.html

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    1. Thanks for visiting. I'll be reading and enjoying your A-Z of baby boomer years.

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  2. I like the 'whistle or sing' rule your mum had. A lively place that must have been! Bet she had some pretty good recipes too.
    "Female Scientists Before Our Time"
    Shells–Tales–Sails

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    1. There's a recipe in B, yes we were a lively household. I'll enjoy your informative posts on women scientists of earlier times.

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  3. What well describe memories, you really brought that jamming to life. I'm a country girl myself from the south of England, but it was my aunt who had the farm and it was sheep and cows, so the only fruit we used to gather there was blackberries off the brambles around the hedges. My mum used to make blackberry and apple jam, or crumble from them.
    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

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    1. Thanks for visiting Sophie. Yum, I love fresh blackberries and blackberry jam. Home made versions were so much better than the store bought varieties.

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  4. So, c'mon.... was dad as good at consuming neatly as he was at piling high? :-)
    <a href="http://areluctantbitch.blogspot.com”>A Reluctant Bitch</a>

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    1. Yes he was pretty good at getting it to his mouth without spillage, but there was always a knife handy to reload when necessary.

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  5. Hoorah! You're participating too. Apricots are just about my favourite fruit I think. I smiled at the whistling bit. Clever mum.

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    1. I had to sing 🎶 , could never master whistling 😙

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  6. Great descriptions and love the details. I grew up on a farm in the 70s & 80s. This brought back fun memories. I am looking forward to your next one.

    Emily

    A to Z Participant

    My Life In Ecuador

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    1. Thanks for visiting, I shall be following your Ecuadorean experiences with interest, South America is not a continent I have visited.

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  7. I very much enjoyed your memories, particularly your jam-making adventures. I love apricot jam, though my fruit trees are of the apple and peach varieties. I do have an almond tree, though pretty young so it doesn't yield much. Love your mum's whistling idea! My blog is also about rural life, though I'm across the pond. :-)

    I'll definitely be tuning in! Had my share of run-ins with bulls!

    Amy
    ABOUT AMY

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    1. I'll enjoy reading about your rural Missouri and comparing it to my now long past experiences in rural South Australia.

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  8. Especially liked the children watching Dad cut in quarters his sandwich and waiting to see if anything would fall off.
    I will be able to relate to more of what you will offer this month. Look forward to the bulls

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  9. Love your theme, thinking that this will bring reminders of my days on my Grandparents farm

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  10. Your post certainly brought back memories of the Vacola bottling outfit, the hot kitchens and the mounds of fruit to be cut up. We had mainly peaches and plums. Not something I want to do now I am older.

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  11. How very descriptive! You made me hungry for both - they're two of my favorite flavors. Enjoy the rest of the challenge!

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  12. Hi Carmel - what a great resume of life with apricots and almonds ... sounds idyllic - with some stoning work thrown in ... cheers Hilary

    A for Aurochs
    Today’s A - Z Challenge 2017 post

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  13. I love how you were encouraged to whistle or sing while you worked to keep you from eating the almonds you were shelling. :) Fun topic. :)

    With Love,
    Mandy

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  14. I've never had coconut on my apricot before. I'll have to give that a try!
    J -- Co-host the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference and Speculative Fiction Writer
    2017 THEME = Speculative fiction story featuring telepathy.
    http://jlennidornerblog.what-are-they.com

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  15. I've now enjoyed your first five entries - they paint a picture of a happy, hardworking and down to earth household with lots of love to share.

    Jill - Blogging the #AtoZChallenge at ballau.blogspot.com

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  16. Thanks to all who visited and wrote such kind comments. I'm now busy reading all your blogs and trying to comment on those too.

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  17. Yummy! I love apricot jam and look forward to the years when we have plenty of apricots. I've never had home grown almonds. What a treasure!

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Thanks for visiting, I appreciate your comments.