Monday, August 4, 2014

Apricot Jam

We’re JAMMING!  This is a very simple and low-key recipe to transform your apricot harvest into a delicious jam!   It's an all natural recipe with basic ingredients, without food preservatives, pectin or added artificial flavors and colors.  Just APRICOTS, SUGAR, LEMONS and an APPLE—that’s it. 

ApricotJam

No added pectin, you ask?  NO.  Pectin is present in varying levels in all fruit.  Apricots have a medium level of natural pectin and will therefore set quite easily, especially when combined with high pectin fruits such as apples or citrus fruits.  I wasn’t so keen on using pectin in our jam, even though all of our jam making relatives told us it’s what you do.  I wasn’t convinced (and “pectin research” on the web pretty much only made me paranoid).  Here I had pounds and pounds of beautiful, handpicked, sun-ripened organic apricots and I didn’t like the idea of adding a packaged, GMO gelling agent to it.  I just couldn’t.  I suppose it’s the purist in me, or the stubborn German.  I decided the pectin in the peel of a large tart apple and freshly pressed lemon juice will do to jell my jam.  I was prepared to take the risk, but it worked like a charm. 

Also, to spice the jam naturally we utilized some of the apricot pits.  The kernels inside apricot stones are edible and we added them into the cooking pot to give a jam a slightly almond flavor.   In order to get to the kernels, crack the apricot pits with a hammer or nutcracker.

Hope this inspired you to try jamming yourself.  Get yourself prepared for the aroma that will fill your house while you're simmering the jam on the stove—it’s nothing short of divine.

Jam
  • 9 cups fresh Apricots;  pitted and diced
  • 5 Apricot Pits;  seeds only
  • 6 cups Sugar
  • 2 fresh Lemons;  juiced and peeled
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple;  peel only

Preparations:
  • Place a clean saucer in your freezer for testing the jam later.
  • WASH the jars and lids in hot, soapy water.  Rinse well and dry.
  • HEAT the oven to 250°F (120°C) and bake the jars for 20 minutes to sterilize them.  It’s best to set the jars onto baking trays in order to make it easier to handle them when they’re hot.
  • Wash and clean all fresh produce:  apricots, lemons and the apple.
  • Pit the apricots and cut them into a small dice—this also makes it easier to measure out the fruit.  Place the apricots into a large nonreactive pot.
  • Peel the apple in one long and continuous ribbon and then do the same to the two lemons.
  • Juice the lemons.
  • Measure out the sugar, then add all ingredients to the pot and stir well to combine everything evenly.
  • Place the pot over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil and stir frequently.
  • At this point, lower the heat slightly and work the pieces of apricot with a potato masher until liquid in the pot becomes syrupy and you’ve reached the texture of jam you like (piecy or smooth).
  • Cook and stir frequently with a heatproof rubber spatula for 15-20 minutes.  Monitor the heat closely as you stir to prevent the jam from bubbling or sticking.  Lower the heat if necessary.
  • After about 15 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and test the jam for doneness.  The color of the apricots should by now be much darker, it’s texture syrupy and glossy.
  • To test the jam’s consistency, carefully place a small amount of jam into the ice cold saucer.  Place the dish into the freezer for a minute, then remove and see if the jam is still runny, or if it has thickened to a jell-like consistency.  If it is still runny, cook it for a few more minutes and then test again, but if it’s thickened up on the cold dish, it’s done.
  • Remove the apricot kernels, as well as the apple and lemon peels from the jam. 
  • Pour the hot jam carefully into sterilized jars, apply the prepared lids and close the rings firmly.  If you spill jam onto the jar, clean the rim by using a clean, damp cloth.
  • Place the now full jam jars onto baking trays and back into the still warm oven.  The warmth of the oven will help seal the jars and preserve them properly.
  • Let cool and set by leaving the jars undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours.  Check the lids to make sure each jar is sealed.  The lids should not flex up and down when you press in the center.
SignatureEnd
       Nina & Spencer

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