I’d like to make an embarrassing confession: Until this summer I’d never eaten a fresh apricot or tasted apricot jam. Sure, I’ve had some trail mix or granola or whatever with little dried cubes of sweetened orange fruitmatter, but a real fresh apricot has never been on the menu.
I was trying out a small batch of pickled cherries, when I saw a recipe for pickled apricots on the opposite page. I took a quick read-through to see how similar the recipes were, and maybe see if apricots (which are now in season) would be a good project to tackle next. There, at the beginning of the recipe, were some words that changed the course of the next few days:
There is no better way to preserve apricots than as apricot jam, but this pickle comes close.
That’s quite a compelling testimonial, from the author of the pickling book! I decided right then that I would make a batch of apricot jam and, after that notch was firmly carved in my bedpost, I would maybe try pickling some too.
I took a trip to the orchard to grab some apricots. The trees had been thoroughly picked over (by people who, no doubt, knew what I was missing), but my height allowed me to grab some of the ones that were hanging just out of range of the average picker. I managed to fill about half of a 2.5 gallon bucket, which was more than enough to do some experiments on.
No sooner had I walked in the door than I rinsed one off and stuffed it into my cake hole.
Wow. These aren’t just smaller peaches. They’re totally legit. The veil has been pulled off, the die has been cast, Caesar has crossed the Rubicon. Apricots, it seems have been added to the list of things I need to buy too much of each year.
(Besides the great flavor, it helps that apricots are freestone and don’t typically need to be peeled. Processing them is much easier than most peaches, though they are smaller and you need to do more of them).
- 6 cups apricots, rinsed, stoned and finely chopped.
- 4 cups sugar, divided
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 packet Sure Jell no sugar pectin
Process the apricots and put them in a non-reactive bowl. Add lemon juice and 2 cups of the sugar. Stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and put the mixture in the fridge to macerate overnight.
The next day, dump the apricot mixture into a large stock pot. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat.
In a separate bowl combine the remaining sugar and pectin. Whisk to combine (this, supposedly, prevents clumping). When the apricots are boiling so hard that stirring doesn’t make it go down, add the sugar mixture. Stir vigorously.
Being the mixture back to a boil for 1 minute. Ladle into hot, prepared jars. Wipe the rims, add sterilized lids and bands, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Good. Really, really good.
It’s not just a peach jam with an orange color, like I was half expecting. It has some tartness to it, great texture, great color, and fantastic taste. This probably is up among the top few jams I’ve made since I’ve started making them. It’s not better than my favorite cherry jam, but I definitely like it more than peach jam. I will certainly add this to the rotation, we will be making much of this next year.
I suspect that apricots would mix very well with oranges, tart cherries and maybe even cranberries. I’ll play with these ideas and more next year.