Every Sunday since April I’ve eagerly scanned the stalls at the downtown Martinez Farmer’s Market, waiting for the appearance of apricots. I’ve been rationing last year’s apricot jam like a treasure, bestowing it only on the most worthy of toasts, sandwiches, danishes, and friends. At long last, I’m happy to report, the first apricots have arrived! Hard and sweet-tart, they are just what we need to cook up some fantastic jam! Firmer fruit has more pectin, so you’ll have an easier time not just separating the fruit from the pits, but also in getting a good set on your jam, if you choose the firmer (but still blushing) fruit.
Parisian-Style Apricot Jam
In this recipe, adapted from David Lebovitz’s excellent instruction here, you’ll get approximately one pint of jam per pound of fruit. Plan accordingly (and adjust your expectations, or your canning jar size, to suit!). For home use, I prefer a pint jar. To give to friends, I find a half-pint or quarter-pint jar is perfect – it means there’s plenty to go around so that everyone gets a taste!
Scale the following instructions to the quantity of apricots at your disposal:
Wash and pit one pound of firm but ripe apricots, reserving the pits.
Drop the halved fruits into a stock pot with 1 ounce of water. Put the lid on the pot and bring the contents to a simmer, stirring frequently, steaming the apricots until they are quite soft and fallen apart.
To the softened apricots, add 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar, stirring to dissolve.
Bring the mixture to a bubble, stirring occasionally and skimming off the light colored foam as you go.
While you wait for your jam to cook, use pliers, crab crackers, or the back of a heavy knife to remove the kernels from your apricot pits, locating one plump kernel per jar you will be filling. The kernels have an interesting fragrance they impart on your finished jam – they aren’t for eating, just for ambiance, if you will. Drop the kernels into the bottom of your waiting, clean jars.
Using a thermometer to guide you, bring the mixture to 220 degrees fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer handy, place a small dish in the freezer for 30 minutes, and once your jam starts to bubble in large “glomps” and appears very shiny on the surface, run a line of jam on the cold dish, then run your finger through the jam, testing to see if it will hold the edges of your swipe – if so, your jam is nearly done! If not, return the plate to the freezer and press on.
Once your jam has set, add the juice of 1 lemon, and stir. Remove from the heat and ladle into sterilized jars. Wipe the jar tops clean and apply the lids. I prefer to store my jam in the refrigerator, or give to eager friends immediately.
When you’re done, you will have a bowl or cup filled with the foam and syrup skimmed from the cooking jam. This is the cook’s reward; serve yourself a slice of toast or a scoop of ice cream with this nectar and take inventory of your charms!