'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.
The recipe is a slight adaptation of one in The Good Housekeeping Complete Book of Preserving 1991 edition.