Apricot Jam

I’m becoming much more of an apricot jam person as the years go on. My best friend, Kelly, has always been a fan and I never used to understand why, but I’m getting it now. While I still don’t love it on a peanut butter sandwich (raspberry’s my favorite for that) it’s very tasty in many other applications. I really like to use it to enhance a sauce for savory meats, especially pork and chicken, as a filling for a layer cake or cookie, and to make a simple appetizer as shown in the photo. Just take your favorite cracker, spread it with a soft cheese, like goat or brie, top if with a good amount of freshly ground pepper and a dollop of apricot jam and you have a fabulous little snack! It’s my new thing as of today. So, while I will certainly be supplying Kelly’s family with their share of apricot jam this year (they actually do eat it on peanut butter sandwiches!) I will be putting a couple jars to good use myself! I dare to suggest you do the same.

 
 
Apricot Jam
(makes @ 3 1/2 pints)
3 lbs ripe apricots
1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed (one lemon)
5 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
Special Equipment
 
plastic canning basket
jar tongs/grabbers
large funnel
potato masher (not pictured here)
 
Fill a large stock pot with water (leave about 4″ at the top) and set it on high heat to boil. This could take awhile so you want to start ASAP. Have your canning jars clean and ready to sanitize in the boiling water. I used 12 oz jars but you could use any size, really.
Slice apricots into 8 – 10 segments in to a large pot or dutch oven. The apricots should be ripe enough to easily detach from the pit. You do not need to peel them – isn’t that great?!
Juice one lemon, it should yield about 1/4 cup of juice. Don’t fret if it’s not precise.
Add the juice, sugar and water to the apricots. On medium-low heat, mash and combine until the sugar is dissolved.
After the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil, continuing to mash the fruit until the segments are broken up. Boil for about 15 minutes then check consistency (see below). Put a small plate or bowl in the freezer for testing purposes.
As soon as the water in your stock pot begins to boil, place your lids and jars in a plastic canning basket  (I sort of piled the jars on in the water because they didn’t all fit in the basket) and submerge them in the water, boiling for at least 10 minutes. If you’re at a higher elevation like I am, add one minute for every thousand feet. This should sterilize them properly.
 As the jam boils, it may become foamy at the top. You can simply skim it off with a large spoon.
After the jam has boiled for approximately 15 minutes, test it by placing on the cold plate/bowl you had in the freezer. It should mound up and be quite jam-like if it’s ready. If it’s not, boil for a few more minutes, test, repeat as needed. It’s really important it cools before you judge the consistency, thus the cold plate/bowl.
By now, your jars should be sterile. Take them out carefully, leaving the stockpot full of hot water for the final step of sealing the jars. Place them upside down on a towel, the glass will dry quickly but you’ll have to dry the lids.
 Carefully ladle the jam in to the jars, using a large funnel. I use a measuring cup as my ladle.
Fill them leaving about 1/2″ at the top for “headspace”.
 Fill all the jars, top with the lids and seal, a little more loose than tight, with the rings. If you don’t don’t fill all the jars full, place remaining jam in the refrigerator and don’t worry about sealing the lid.
To seal the lids on the jars for storage, place them in the basket and submerge in to boiling water. Boil for at least 10 minutes, longer if you are at a higher elevation. I just go ahead and boil mine for 15 to be sure.
Remove them, carefully from the water and wait for the “pop” sound you should hear when the jar is sealed. If you fail to hear it, you can check the middle of the top of the jar. If it’s still raised, it’s not sealed.
If it’s indented and doesn’t pop back up when pressed, it’s sealed. Sometimes it happens in the first couple minutes, sometimes it takes a lot longer so don’t panic if it doesn’t seal right away.
That’s it! Now they’re ready to give to friends or store in the pantry for at least a year if they stick around that long. They probably would store for longer than that even, but please don’t subscribe to my mother-in-law’s idea of how long food could be preserved. After she died, we found countless dusty jars of 20+ year old fruits and vegetables. Don’t ask what we found in the freezer. God rest her soul.
“Jam on a winter day took away the blue devils. It was like tasting summer.”
Sandra Dallas