Nothing better than a great slice of crusty bread, toasted with butter melting over the sides and a spoonful of apricot jam on the top. It’s a bit indulgent with the butter but I ask, is it any worse than eating a croissant? I don’t think so.
Yesterday, running errands in our beautiful city, a 3-pound carton of farm-fresh apricots caught my eye. Jason humored me as I retold him the story of having an apricot tree in our back yard and filling up on these in the summer until I got a tummy ache. $4 dollars got me the carton. What a great deal. I handed the man my money, (feeling I was getting the better part of the deal) and said to Jason, “These will make great jam!”
The rich sunset color, the downy skin and the sweet meaty fruit on the inside just make me happy. Memories of my Granny Mary fill my mind; it was her favorite too and we always had this for breakfast at her house. She’d give me a glass of milk and she would drink her coffee, which she liked “blonde” meaning, with a lot of cream.
This morning I washed them and cut them into halves to prepare them for canning. I looked to the experts for advice on a wholesome recipe. The last time I’d made jam was when I was just a little girl, along side my Grandma Lee (my mom’s mom). I came across a very simple recipe with a few simple ingredients and set out to make this beautiful, slightly tart, mouth-watering golden-orange elixir.
I adapted this recipe from David Lebovitz. I substituted Kirsch for Vanilla but you could choose your own flavoring additive. Neither is overpowering, but both will enhance the rich, warm goodness of the apricots and give a smooth aftertaste. I also added lemon zest to my recipe.
2 1/2 Pounds of Apricots
1/4 Cup Water
3 Cups Sugar
1/4 Tsp Lemon Zest (minced)
1 Tsp Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 Tsp Kirsch (I used Vanilla)
Put the apricots in your French oven. Add the water and lemon zest. Cover with the lid. Turn heat to medium high, stirring frequently. Cook until apricots begin to turn tender and appear cooked through.
Place a small plate in your freezer.
Add sugar and continue stirring with the lid off. Skim any excess foam that forms on the top. Once the jam begins to thicken and reduce stir more frequently to keep the jam from burning on the bottom of the pan.
When the mixture begins to jelly, remove from the heat and place a tablespoon of jam onto the plate in your freezer. Let sit for about 3 minutes.
You want the jam to wrinkle and mound when you press it. If it doesn’t do this, return to the heat and cook for a while longer. If this isn’t clear then just make sure your jam reaches approximately 220ºF, 104ºC.
Add lemon juice and kirsch (or vanilla); stirring in to fold in those rich flavors evenly. Remove from heat; using a ladle, spoon jam into your jars. I reused old jelly jars.
Since I will be gifting two of the jars and eating one myself, there is no need to use a formal canning method. Cover jars tightly while jam is still hot. Clean any excess jam off the sides. Allow them to cool down to room temperature.