One great summer fruit is the apricot. They’re not often eaten fresh, though; not sure why, as they’re certainly tasty that way. Dried apricots are used in lots of fruit snacks, and that’s a great way to preserve them for the winter months. If you have an abundance of the fresh fruit and access to a dehydrator, you should save as many apricots as you can stand that way; simply cut the fruit in half, remove the pit and then dehydrate the fruit.
But I digress…
Apricots. Good flavor, good for you. The name means “precious” in Latin. (That’s a bit of important food trivia for you next party chat.) They can be used in a large number of recipes, but most Americans know them through jams and preserves.
And when I found some nice apricots on sale at my favorite upscale grocer’s, I couldn’t resist trying to make some jam.
It’s amazingly simple, actually. You don’t really need a recipe, not a detailed one. Just a set of guidelines and some idea of what you need to see as you work the fruit. Here’s what I did…
I had about two pounds of apricots. These were on the fairly-large size, about five to a pound. I cut them open in half, like you would a peach. They’ve even got this built-in guide for your knife. The stones came out easily. I Used a spoon to scrape out the central cavity a bit, just in case there was any dried bits or musty stuff; sometimes, apricots can have a thin, bad-tasting layer next to the pits. (I didn’t break open any of the stones to get the almond-looking kernel out, but you can. These seeds can be used lots of ways.)
I cut each apricot half into four pieces, then put them into a medium saucepan with a quarter-cup of bourbon and a quarter-cup of lemon juice. This didn’t look like enough liquid, but once the apricots began to cook they released plenty of juice. I cooked the fruit for about 20 minutes at a low simmer, then I added 2½ cups each sugar and sucralose. I turned the heat up a bit to get the pot boiling gently. Meanwhile, I put a clean ceramic plate in the freezer.
The apricots cooked down nicely, and the liquid became a light syrup after another 10-15 minutes. After a bit I put some of the fruit and syrup, just about a half-teaspoon full, onto the plate and put that back into the freezer. After three minutes I took the plate out again and pushed against it using a fingernail; the infamous “nudge” test. It worked! The jam had a nice jell. I took the pan off the heat and prepared for canning.
I filled six half-pint jars; one was only about three-quarters full, though. (Missed it by THAT much.) I processed the jars in boiling water for 8-10 minutes, and once they’d cooled I labeled them and stored them with the rest of the Christmas gifts. Based on my taste test, next time I’ll add more bourbon…
Enjoy the (Sticky Orange Tastiness) Heat!