July 22, 2011

Apricot Jam…

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We started with Strawberry jam and that wasn’t enough or us. We usually have to buy a few small jars of apricot jam in the winter months or some of our favorite recipes. So since apricots are just about everywhere right now and they smell and taste delicious we decided to try our hand at Apricot Jam. I searched all over the place for a recipe and ended up at Thought Palace and used Jens’s recipe. This recipe is one that Jens says was handed down and does not require pectin or processing in a canner. Since The last batched we made were canned and processed with pectin I thought we could give this one  a try.

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Cut the apricots in half and put them in a large non-aluminum cooking pot. Set aside the pits for later. For each cup of apricots, add 3/4 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice.  Let the mixture stand at least two hours, you will end up with a syrupy soup of apricot halves and sugar.  While the apricot halves are marinating in sugar take the apricot pits outside with a  hammer and crack them open to get to the kernel in the center.

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Just tap the pit on the raised ridge on one side. Be careful when you are cracking the pits open, if you hit them too hard you will go through the pit and crush the kernel.  Hang onto those kernels  until your jam is finished cooking.

Now put the pot with your apricot halves and sugar on the stove and bring  to a boil over high heat. At first you’ll just need to stir occasionally to keep it from scorching, then as it comes to a boil you’ll need to stir continuously. Once it’s at a steady boil, set a timer for 25 minutes and keep stirring…

When it first starts boiling, it’s going to produce lots and lots of pale orange foam, which you’re going to have to skim off with a ladle to keep the pot from overflowing.  If you put the foam in a quart jar and let it settle, it turns into apricot syrup. The syrup is awesome on pancakes or ice cream. Keep it in the fridge. We did this and ended up with almost a full jar after it settled.

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When the timer goes off, take a look at the mixture. If it still seems liquidy, let it boil another five minutes (but no more). The goal is to have reduced the volume by about half, and for what’s left to be fairly thick; sort of like boiling jam. When it’s ready, turn off the heat

Now fill each prepared and sterilized jar as follows: Take it out of the dishwasher, turn it right-side-up (very important!), drop in an apricot kernel, and ladle jam into it up to about 1/4” below the rim. Try not to get jam on the rim, if you do wipe the rim with a  damp cloth. (The right amount of airspace is important for getting the jar to seal.) Put a lid on top, then screw a ring over it finger tight. Turn the jar upside-down (very important!) Go on to the next jar. Repeat till you run out of jam.

When the last jar is filled and flipped over, set a timer for 5 minutes. When it beeps, flip all of the jars back upright and let them stand for a little while. You should soon hear a little metallic “ping!” sound as each jar seals shut — the cooling air shrinks and forms a partial vacuum that pulls the lid tight and makes it flip from convex to concave.

If any jars haven’t popped shut by themselves in 15 minutes, they’re not properly sealed, so put them in the fridge and eat the jam soon.

Tighten the sealed jars’ rings some more, and label them with the type of jam and the approximate date. In a reasonably cool place (basements are good) they’ll keep for at least 2 years.

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We have been enjoying some of the let over jam that would not properly fill our last jar. We just put it in the fridge. We only put a kernel in half of our jam so that we could taste the difference and see what we want to do next summer. I can’t wait to be able to use this in one of our favorite recipes  this winter.

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