Apricot Jam

Tuesday, 15 July 2014








'What can I eat?'
'Bread and jam!'

I wasn't going to make any jam this year. Last year's blackcurrant has hardly been touched, there are still two jars of raspberry, a jar of quince jelly and several of damson and crab apple (the crab apple was made in 2011) not to mention all the damn marmalade. In an effort to get it all eaten I have stopped baking cakes and biscuits and increased the bread output.

So you see I have no reason to add to my jam collection. But apricots are so beautiful, like miniature babies' bottoms, and I've never made apricot jam before.  As a rule I like to make jam with homegrown fruit for economy's sake, free from my garden or picked at a farm. Apricot jam has always seemed a little exotic and expensive.

Apricots, I discovered, are not expensive if you buy them from the right place. I didn't do a particularly thorough price comparison suffice to say; Ocado -£9.98 a kg, Tesco £6.25 a kg and my lovely farmshop, Broomfield's of Holt Heath, Worcestershire £1.95 a kg or 89p a lb.

£3.60 for 4lb of apricots
£1.39 for 4lb of granulated sugar
30p for a lemon
I got seven 450g/1lb jars out of that at a cost of 75p each. The result is every bit as good as Bonne Maman's apricot conserve which costs £2.29 for a 370g jar.

It's a doddle to make, really it is. Just cut 4lbs apricots in half or smaller pieces if you like, remove the stones (they come out easily). It's all to the good if your apricots are a little under-ripe, they will have more pectin.

Throw the apricots in a preserving pan or very large saucepan with the juice of one lemon and 15 fl oz of water. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 15 minutes until all soft and pulpy.

Add 4lbs of sugar, stir to dissolve then bring to a rolling boil and boil steadily for 15 minutes. Pot into sterilised jars (sterilise them by washing them and drying them out in a 100°c oven while you are boiling the jam). Jam done.

I think homemade apricot jam is special enough without fancying it up with lavender or vanilla and suchlike. The same goes for any homemade jam. I note there is a current fashion for roasting strawberries before making them into jam, or indeed anything else. Strawberry jam is already delicious without added complications. Resist the urge to gild the lily.




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41 comments:

  1. I always seem to say the same thing when I visit you but I just can't help myself: this looks absolutely delicious. And yes, apricots do look like little baby bums, don't they :-)

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  2. It looks like you left the skins on. Is that the case? It really is very simple to make if you did. Looks delicious.

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    1. I certainly did leave the skins on. Life is too short to skin an apricot.

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  3. Mmm. Am now thinking that I need to add apricot jam to the already extensive to-do list for this week. I have a feeling that it may go striaght to the top of said list...
    Ax

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  4. It's my favourite jam. I once made some (Delia's very fiddly preserve with the cracked kernels) but usually it's Bonne Maman. Your recipe looks much less bother.

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    1. Actually this jam did a few cracked kernels in but I didn't think they added anything to the flavour so I kept quiet about them. I won't bother adding them next time.

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  5. I love apricot jam, I have a few jars of rhubarb and ginger from last year...I always seem to 'over' set mine!! Certainly works out good value for money and keeping it simple is the best way x

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  6. I love apricots. They look beautiful and taste delicious. I can almost taste your jam on a slice of fresh bread now :-) Sadly the only thing near my desk is dark orange chocolate so that will have to do instead ;-)

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  7. Just picked 2kg of raspberries this morning to make your jam with redcurrants and now I want to make apricot jam - that colour!

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  8. Well said Sue, when the ingredients are good and fresh there's no need to add fancy stuff. Apricot jam is my favourite I think, it reminds me of my grandpa's house when I was little. He used to buy expensive jam and put lots on his bread. My mum would tell him off, and he would say, you can't take it with you. It was delicious, with lots of big pieces of apricots. You have made me long for it. How nice to have such a good local farm shop, lucky you.

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  9. Come over to my house. You can have all the free apricots you want from our tree.

    Speaking of bread and jam, have you ever read the classic children's book, "Bread and Jam for Frances"?

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    1. I haven't Kari, I've never heard of it to be honest but I will do a bit of googling and find out. You are welcome to come over to my house in October and help yourself to quinces.

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  10. It looks delicious and you got a good deal on the fruit! xx

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  11. Apricot jam is one of my favourites and I think of it as special, a bit of a treat. I love it on toasted brioche best of all. I've never made it as I thought that, given the cost of the fruit, I might as well just buy a good quality jar instead. It's encouraging to hear that apricots can be found cheaply!

    Can I meekly say (and I totally bow down to your greater knowledge here Sue!) that vanilla and rhubarb jam is pretty delicious (think rhubarb and custard). I also experimented with strawberry and basil at the weekend too, that was nice. x

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    1. I am sure they are both very delicious Gillian. I think my point is that homemade jam is fabulous anyway without any embellishment. Actually this is a bit of a hobby horse of mine which probably deserves a whole post to itself someday.

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    2. I agree, and I look forward to you post. I love to hear people talk about their hobby horses!

      ( I might do one on the mis-use of jam jars, and also the pointless scattering of flowers on food...)

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    3. Oh definitely do that, it's a post which needs to be written.

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  12. Anonymous7:21 pm BST

    Can I come to your house and eat your blackcurrant jam that has hardly been touched If you have any blackcurrant ice cream as well I will gladly pay a kings ransom for it!

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    1. I'm afraid that now the kids have realised that the blackcurrant jam is not damson jam they are digging in with enthusiasm. No blackcurrant ice cream here I'm afraid, my currant crop is currently v.bad.

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  13. Sue,

    Long time reader, first time poster here! I usually make the 'French Apricot Jam' from Sarah Ravens Garden Cookbook, have you tried it? In fact we use the same method for all our soft fruit jam, as its so simple: stone and cut up fruit (actually I think in the case of the apricot jam they're still in their halves), if its raspberries, you don't even need to do that! Mix with the sugar - we usually use less than equal weight as we prefer less sugar. Leave overnight. Bring gently to simmer and bubble for 5-15 mins. It can make a loose-ish jam, but we like that too (works better with ice cream!)

    Thabks so much for your blog, love reading about what you're up to (especially in the kitchen!)

    Fran

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    1. Hi Fran, yes I have made raspberry jam exactly like that and it is very good indeed, I must try it with apricots next time, thank you.

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  14. Hi Sue did you know that if you put the apricot kernels in vodka with sugar and leave in sunlight for a while you get a liqueur that is very like ameretto. I usually make mine when I do apricot jam rather than throwing away the kernels (agree with you that they don't add anything to the jam). It is really delicious and I use it when I make tiramisu! You don't need to break them, just put them in whole.

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    1. PS meant to add how much I love your blog!

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    2. Thank you, and what a good idea for using the kernels, I'm always interested in anything alcoholic!

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  15. Anonymous8:21 pm BST

    Dear Sue, i cant tell you how much i'm loving your return to the kitchen😊😊
    Very best wishes Claire Pengelly xxx

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  16. Anonymous9:39 pm BST

    I like any recipe that says "4 lb of sugar." Have to hum loudly to drown out the voices that claim we are doomed from eating refined white stuff. I'm not listening. Lalalalalalalalala. The thought of a simple biscuit with this golden loveliness on it, smear of butter. Ahhh.
    Ooops. By biscuit I mean the American bready thing, whatever you call it. Not a cookie thing, though I wouldn't pass it up. How about that cake you did a while ago with coffee? But not coffee, a fruity soak. I tried to make it but alas I did a very fast, clumsy translation. Just now getting around to cleaning up the burnt mess on the bottom of the oven from where the batter bubbled over. But I salvaged the cake and it was very nice with blueberries and cream.
    Love your simple, handcrafted labels.

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  17. Sue - I am rereading your archives in a bid to improve my kitchen skills which are patchy to say the least - today I tried 'fork biscuits' thinking they'd be quick as I had to rush out. They seemed to take ages to go golden, and I was hopping from foot to foot, eventually trying one and thinking it was a bit raw-tasting. When I switched the oven off I noticed it had been on grill, not oven….I confessed to my daughter later - she suggested (jokingly) that I put them back in upside-down, which I did... and they're fine! So now you know that if ever your oven dies, you can always produce grilled biscuits.
    Great jam by the way.

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    1. You had me worried there Marge. I wonder if you could grill a cake.....?

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  18. That looks lovely. But I still haven't used up last year's marmalade, let alone this year's - and if I'm honest, it's because Marmite always wins.

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  19. I tried the "French apricot jam" method this year, using less sugar than fruit and produced some lovely, fruity jam...nice in thick yogurt ! I snaffled 6 punnets "past their sell by date" but still under ripe in Asda at 65p each.. Bargain!... Makes it taste even better

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  20. mmmm that looks so good Sue, apricot jam is my most favourite jam and I love your labels - the perfect finishing touch x

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  21. Why don't you live nearer? I would gladly help with your jam backlog!

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  22. You're so good at this and you make it sound easy. I'm with you, I don't necessarily go for the weird flavors in jam. To me, the plain and simple kinds are best.

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  23. I am a late convert to the joys of apricot jam but I have come to the conclusion, and I will not back down, that apricot jam is best for croissants.

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  24. So glad I read this post today - made 6lbs today and spread it on English Muffin Bread by Lottie & Doof - SO easy and so delish - must be toasted though...
    Thanks Sue - you keep me on the straight and narrow..........

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  25. I really need to get myself a jam thermometer. Last week I discovered that we have a Mirabelle plum tree in the front garden so I will be turning those into jam. Trying to hold off as much as possible for them to ripen further... Sadly my husband has vetoed adding an apricot tree to the garden as it is "more to mow around". (Plus I'm the only one who likes apricots.) Your apricot jam looks like sunshine!

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    1. And sunshine is what it taste of Angela.

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  26. It looks delicious! I'm watching and waiting for the fruit on the crab apple tree I found and then I'll be making crab apple jelly, and quince jelly later, but nothing else because like you we just aren't eating the volume of jams and jellies we used to.

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  27. Anonymous11:10 am BST

    Same here, I made loads of jams, jellies and elderflower cordial and I am the only one who likes it, still lots left from 2011. But I am certainly going to make rosebud/pineapple jam or jelly again. Lifting the seeds with a teaspoon of the right proportion to not overdo the hairy bits in the jam. I totally love that combination and I think with fresh but precooked pineapple it will taste even better. recook to counter the things in fresh pineapple that tender meat and make milkproducts taste bitter, just to be on the safe side.
    Apricot kernels, the inner things, were used over here instead of the combination almonds and a few bitter almonds to make rough marzipan to go into a millefeuilles surrounding, in Dutch it is caalled banketletter. When almonds were very expensive due to misharvests, they fif the apricotkernels tric, just does not taste as good as real almonds, but will do. I love the tric with apr.kernels and alcohol, makes the high price of apricots a bit more digestible, so to speak. But one should never overdo eating raw apricotkernels, something to do with an toxic ingredient when overdone, search Google. Just to countereffect buying apricots, rosebuds can be picked for free and freezing a sweet pineapple now (1 euro at L idls on the continent) will do for at least 6 jars of rosebud/pineapple jam. Then there are elderberries for free too and sloes (both make lovely colouedr gin) and the lderberries can be cooked and then muslinseeved and combine pipless with all kinds of black fruit, like blackberries, black currants and black or sour cherries. Do only ad sliced fresh strawberries or babanas to any kind of rumtopf, both will, when put weeks ahead in the rumtopf or whatever alcoholic turn a sickly colour and substance and I refuse to add artificial colouring to any preserve I make because then I could as well buy it in a suoermarket. Homemade you know what you have put in it (f.i. many people undergoing candertreatment are advised to stay of citrusfruit and sweeteners of all kind, because they interfere with their medicines). Refined sugar makes for the nice orangy colour in your jam and there are now German reports on all kinds of sugar, refined or organic, beet or agave or whatever that say: all sugars are bad for teeth, so scrub your teeth after a sugary drink or bite, even fruitsugar! and all are fattening when you eat/drink too much of it. The mineral/vitamin benefits are so low, one really would have to eat/drink huge proportions every day to get some use of it. So, I will not feel bad using our refined beetsugar, the mill is in front of our house, so a very low footprint, which I can nat say of sugarreetsugar, it has to come from other countries. I enjoy reading your blog, next year I will be early on "ordering" some quinces again in a neighbouring village, because I have enough of quincejams/jellies too last till then. One can always use jams or jellies as layers in a simple poundcake, maybe dribble it then with chacolatesauce and ad some sweet whipped cream or in sylabubs or in the dark ryebreadcrumbles, alcohol (fruit be jam) and cream cobbled of the Scots and Germans? Reina

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