The other day, I bought a case of fresh, perfect apricots from Paul at Gregory Farms. He had just brought them across from Yakima. They were sun-warm. Today I got up early to beat the heat and cooked up a big batch of jam.
I like a lower sugar jam, and I found excellent guidance and recipe from David Lebovitz. He recommends 3/4 part sugar per 1 part fruit, and that came out perfect to my taste. (please weigh your ingredients to make sure you're getting the right proportions). I did follow his optional suggestion to add a bit of Kirschwasser, but I also tossed in a bay leaf for the subtle flavor it lends, but be sure to remove the leaves before filling your jars.
Cook your fruit first, then add the sugar, lemon juice and optional ingredients. This recipe does not have added pectin, so to reach a good gel, you'll be relying on the natural pectin in the fruit, as well water evaporation and the sugars thickening up. This can take some time, and while you should be attentive, there are some clues to look for indicating how close you're getting to the gel point. As you're cooking, there is an initial phase when a lot of fruity foam forms on top. After the foam dissipates, you're getting much closer to gelling temperature (about 220F). Do a gel test by placing a small amount of cooked jam on a chilled plate. Let it cool, and push the jam with your finger to see if it is still liquidy (not ready) or gelled (ready!) David Lebovitz has a nice photo, but this is one of those things you have to experience to get to the AHA! Here we're getting pretty close.
Ideas for using your Apricot jam
Well it doesn't get any better than jam on buttered toast. Or does it? Yes! there are so many other things you can do with a fabulous raft of homemade apricot jam.
- Pair with cheese (a manchego or other aged sheep's milk cheese) and toasted baguette rounds
- Pair with baked ham on soft brioche rolls and havarti with a little mustard and lettuce for a great picnic sandwich.
- Make this Sweet Apricot Vinaigrette to dress this meal-worthy kale salad.
- That vinaigrette might be a good meat marinade too...
- Kick the flavored yogurt habit and use your delicious homemade jam to liven up a good quality plain yogurt instead. You'll know what you're eating!
I could go on, but I'd like to hear your great ideas. Send them in!
- Towels to put jam pot on
- Towels to work on while filling hot jars
- Towels, a rack or another heat resistant surface for the hot sterilized jars.
- Stelilized jars (keep hot in oven until you're ready to fill)
- Canning pot on stove and boiling. Fill high enough to cover your jars by at least a couple of inches (but not so high that displacement will cause an overflow)
- Lids sterilized in simmering water (in the saucepan, below)
- Tools: sterilized ladle, canning funnel, small plate for funnel between fillings, magnetic lid lifter, jar lifter, clean, damp towel for wiping jar rims after filling, jar sealing rings.
In the photo, I ave everything ready to go, with an inverted sheet pan at the right where my hot jars will go once I am ready to start.