When you buy a house, there are all sort of surprises. Some are just odd, like the giant oriental rug we found in the backyard under a thick layer of weeds and ivy. I still can’t figure out how that happened. It had to be on purpose, but why?
But some surprises are very, very good. We moved into our house in early July back in 2009 and spent the first several months ignoring the unassuming tree in our front yard. After all, we had rooms to paint and many, many weeds to pull – like the ones covering the previously mentioned rug.
Then in early spring, the tree out front bloomed. Lovely, delicate white blooms that held the promise of spring when the temperatures were often still below freezing. That alone was a nice surprise, but then…those blooms turned into apricots! Up to this point, I am not sure I had ever seen an apricot tree, and I am certain that I had never had a fresh apricot. Now I had a whole tree full of them! That first year, we didn’t get many apricots. Most of them were at least partially eaten by the birds, squirrels, and assorted insects before we got to them, but I’ve learned how to manage them since then. I pick a lot early and let them ripen indoors. Then I eat only the ripest, freshest apricots plain. Finally, I make jam.
Now, I am deadly afraid of canning and was sure that I was going to give everyone botulism the first time I made this jam, but I’ve gotten over it…mostly. I boil the the jars beforehand to sanitize them, but I don’t boil them after filling. I simply keep the prepared jam in the fridge. From my various readings, it should keep this way for up to a year. I usually run out long before that, in large part because one of my husband’s favorite foods is a veggie meatball recipe with a sweet and sour sauce that includes apricot jam. (They are actually called nut balls, but I can’t bring myself to actually call them that!) I promise to post that recipe soon. In the meantime, I make jam more or less according to David Lebovitz’s recipe: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2009/08/apricot-jam/
But I don’t add kirsch. And I kinda guess on the amount of sugar since I don’t weigh the fruit or measure the puree. Finally, I’ve never tried the kernel in the jar thing. If you do, let me know how it turns out. So essentially I do this:
Per Mr. Lebovitz, you should use about 3/4 cup sugar for every cup of fruit puree. I’ve read that you can get away with a little less, but not much or it won’t jell properly. You can also use more if you like sweeter jam.
- 2 lbs fresh apricots
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (or a squirt from the little plastic yellow lemon. It works in a pinch).
Cut the apricots in half and extract the pits. Then, place the apricots in a stockpot or Dutch oven, and add the water. Cover the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until the apricots are tender and cooked through.
Add the sugar to the apricots and cook, uncovered, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. As the mixture thickens and reduces, stir frequently to make sure the jam isn’t burning on the bottom. Cook until jelled and about 220ºF on a candy thermometer (or use David’s freezer plate method).
Once done, stir in the lemon juice and ladle the jam into clean jars. I sanitize my jars first by boiling them for about 10 min.
Once I fill the jars and put on the lids, I flip them upside down for about 30 minutes. I read this in a comment somewhere on the internet. The commenter had years of experience in jam making, so I figure it can’t hurt.
Let cool to room temperature. Once cool, refrigerate until ready to use.