This time of year stone fruits like apricots come onto the market, or if you are lucky you have a tree with ripening fruits. I have made jam.
500 g sugar
1 tblspoon jamsetta (a combination of pectin and citric acid)
cook until mushy or the apricots are soft which takes about 20 minutes. Fill squeaky clean glasses, recycled ones are fine, fill up and close lids tightly. Once opened keep the jam in the fridge as there is not as much sugar in it.
The Apricot (Prunus armeniaca, "Armenian plum" in Latin, syn. Armeniaca vulgaris Lam."Tsiran" in Armenian) is a species of Prunus, classified with the plum in the subgenus Prunus. The native range is somewhat uncertain due to its extensive prehistoric cultivation, but most likely in northern and western China and Central Asia, possibly also Korea and Japan. The Apricot was first cultivated in India in about 3000 BC. In Armenia it was known from ancient times, having been brought along the Silk Road; it has been cultivated there so long it is often thought to be native there. Its introduction to Greece is attributed to Alexander the Great, and the Roman General Lucullus (106-57 B.C.E.) also exported some trees, cherry, white heart cherry and apricot from Armenia to Europe. Subsequent sources were often much confused over the origin of the species. Loudon (1838) believed it had a wide native range including Armenia, Caucasus, the Himalaya, China and Japan. Nearly all sources presume that because it is named armeniaca, the tree must be native to or have originated in Armenia as the Romans knew it. For example, De Poerderlé asserts: "Cet arbre tire son nom de l'Arménie, province d'Asie, d'où il est originaire et d'où il fut porté en Europe ...." ("this tree takes its name from Armenia, province of Asia, where it is native, and whence it was brought to Europe ....") There is no scientific evidence to support such a view. Today the cultivars have spread to all parts of the globe with climates that support it. Apricots have been cultivated in Persia since antiquity, and dried ones were an important commodity on Persian trade routes. Apricots remain an important fruit in modern-day Iran where they are known under the common name Zard-alu. Egyptians usually dry apricot and sweeten it then use it to make a drink called "'amar al-dīn". More recently, English settlers brought the apricot to the English colonies in the New World. Most of modern American production of apricots comes from the seedlings carried to the west coast by Spanish missionaries. Almost all U.S. production is in California, with some in Washington and Utah.. Many apricots are also cultivated in Australia, particularly South Australia where they are commonly grown in the region known as the Riverland and in a small town called Mypolonga in the Lower Murray region of the state. In states other than South Australia apricots are still grown, particularly in Tasmania and western Victoria and southwest New South Wales, but they are less common than in South Australia.
Medicinal and non-food uses Cyanogenicglycosides (found in most stone fruitseeds, bark, and leaves) are found in high concentration in apricot seeds. Laetrile, a purported alternative treatment for cancer, is extracted from apricot seeds. As early as the year 502, apricot seeds were used to treat tumors, and in the 17th century apricot oil was used in England against tumors and ulcers. In Europe, apricots were long considered an aphrodisiac, and were used in this context in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and as an inducer of childbirth, as depicted in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi. Due to their high fiber to volume ratio, dried apricots are sometimes used to relieve constipation or induce diarrhea. Effects can be felt after eating as few as three. Research shows that of any food, apricots possess the highest levels and widest variety ofcarotenoids]. Carotenoids are antioxidants that help prevent heart disease, reduce "bad cholesterol" levels, and protect against cancer]. In traditional Chinese medicine, apricots are considered helpful in regenerating body fluids, detoxifying, and quenching thirst Some claim that the kernels also have healthy properties, including toning the respiratory system and alleviating a cough]. However, the tip of the apricot holds a concentrated amount of the chemical laetrile, which can be upsetting to the systemThe tips of the seeds should be removed and consumption should be limited to no more than five a day.
Thank you to Wikipedia for much of the information. If you want to know more about this wonderful fruit please click here
The summer sky had threatening dark clouds and we were waiting for a downpour;
Then suddenly the sky lightened up and was displaying wonderful sunset colours. It took me a while to realise it as I live surrounded by trees and hills and always have to search for an opening to get a shot at the sky. I was racing outside but until I was positioned between the trees, branches full of spiderwebs, the sun had alreadysaid goodnight and all that was left was the afterglow.
For more SkyWatch pitures around the World, click here
Description Polenta is madewith ground yellow or white cornmeal, (ground maize). It can be ground coarsely or finely depending on the region and the texture desired. As it is known today, polenta derives from earlier forms of grain mush (known as puls or pulmentum in Latin or more commonly as gruel or porridge) commonly eaten in Roman times and after. Early forms of polenta were made with such starches as the grain farro and chestnut flour, both of which are still used in small quantity today. When boiled, polenta has a smooth creamy texture due to the gelatinization of starch in the grain, though it may not be completely homogenous if a coarse grind or a particularly hard grain such as flint corn is used.
Preparation Polenta, by Pietro Longhi Polenta was originally a peasant food. However, since the late 20th century, polenta has become a premium product. Polenta dishes are on the menu in many high-end restaurants, and prepared polenta can be found in supermarkets at high prices. Many current polenta recipes have given new life to an essentially bland and common food, invigorating it with various cheeses or tomato sauces. Polenta is often cooked in a huge copper pot known in Italian as paiolo. In northern Italy there are many different ways to cook polenta. The most famous Lombard polenta dishes are polenta taragna, polenta uncia, polenta concia, polenta e gorgonzola, and missultin e polenta; all are cooked with various cheeses and butter, except the last one, which is cooked with fish from Lake Como. It can also be cooked with porcini mushrooms, rapini, or other vegetables or meats, such as small song-birds in the case of the famous Venetian and Lombard dish polenta e osei. Western polenta is denser, while the eastern one is softer. The variety of cereal used is usually yellow maize, but buckwheat, white maize or mixtures thereof are also used. Polenta is traditionally a slowly cooked dish. It sometimes takes an hour or longer, and constant stirring is necessary. The time and labor intensity of traditional preparation methods has led to a profusion of shortcuts. These include alternative cooking techniques that are meant to speed up the process. There are also new products such as instant polenta, popular in Italy, that allow for fast, easy preparation at home. In his book Heat, Bill Buford talks about his experiences as a line cook in Mario Batali's Italian restaurant Babbo. Buford details the differences in taste between instant polenta and slowly cooked polenta, and describes a method of preparation that takes up to three hours, but does not require constant stirring: "polenta, for most of its cooking, is left unattended.... If you don't have to stir it all the time, you can cook it for hours—what does it matter, as long as you're nearby?"Cook's Illustrated magazine has described a method using a microwave oven that reduces cooking time to 12 minutes and requires only a single stirring to prepare 3 1/2 cups of cooked polenta. Kyle Phillipssuggests making it in a polenta maker or in a slow cooker. Cooked polenta can also be shaped into balls, patties, or sticks and fried in oil until it is golden brown and crispy; this variety of polenta is called crostini di polenta or polenta fritta. Similarly, once formed into a shape it can also be grilled using, for example, a brustolina grill.
Regional variations In Bosnia, it is called pura. In Croatia, polenta is common on the Adriatic coast, where it is known as palenta or pura; in northwestern part of Croatia and around Zagreb, it is known as žganci. In the Adriatic Croatian coast, polenta goes together with fish or frog stew (brujet, brudet). The Corsican variety is called pulenta, and it is made with sweet chestnutflour rather than cornmeal. In Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia the dish is called kachamak (качамак). The Serbian variety is called palenta or kačamak (качамак). The Romanian variety is called mămăligă; this word is also borrowed into the Russian (Мамалыга). The most notable feature of this Romanian variety is the feta cheese cooked in the Polenta. In southern Austria Polenta is also eaten for breakfast (sweet Polenta); the Polenta pieces are either dipped in café au lait or served in a bowl with the café au lait poured on top of it (this is a favourite of children). In the American East, it is commonly called Mush, espescially among those of non-Italian descent.
Similarity with other foods North and South American foods Polenta is very similar to corn grits, a common dish in the cuisine of the Southern United States, with the difference that grits are usually made from coarsely ground kernels. When properly cooked, grits and polenta have similarly smooth textures, "grit" referring to the texture of the dried corn before cooking. Another variation uses ground hominy, lye-treated corn kernels. Polenta is similar to boiled maize dishes of Mexico, where both maize and hominy originate. The Brazilian variety is also known as angu. Originally made by native Indians, it is a kind of polenta without salt nor any kind of oil. However, nowadays "Italian" polenta is much more common at Brazilian tables, especially in the southern and southeastern regions (which have high numbers of Italian immigrants), although some people still call it "angu". The city of São Bernardo do Campo is famous for its restaurants specialized in frango com polenta (fried chicken with fried polenta).
Bibliography Giorgio V. Brandolini, Storia e gastronomia della polenta nella Bergamasca, Orizzonte Terra, Bergamo, 2007. 32 pages. Interesting facts The overreliance on polenta as a staple food caused outbreaks of pellagra throughout much of Europe until the 20th century and in the American South during the early 1900s. Maize lacks readily accessible niacinunless cooked with alkali.
Thank you to Wikipedia who provided the information.