Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Apricot appreciation


We've reached the last weeks of summer break here, and I've been enjoying a slower pace these last few days. While I really value having lots of things to do in the long summer break, so as to keep people busy and have reasons to get up and get out of the house most days, it's also nice to have some time to do very little - just puttering around the house and yard, like I'm mostly doing this week (with trips out for an oil change, procurement of school supplies, and a guitar lesson). Yesterday, I finished a crocheted scarf to be given as a gift, baked Magic Bars to send to work with the Bear, and made a small batch of apricot jam for the pantry. Oh, and I did four loads of laundry, but I never mind laundry.

The apricot jam was kind of a long process in the making, but very little actual work. See, a few weeks ago, the Bear Trio came across a burgeoning apricot tree hanging over the arroyo while they were on an evening walk. It was totally covered with fruit. They checked with the homeowners whose yard it's in (their property backs up to the arroyo likes ours does, with a wall to separate them from the open space) to ask if they could pick the fruit on the arroyo side. They received an enthusiastic yes! Like a lot of people, they are not game for climbing over the wall to pick the fruit on the back of the tree. So the Bears came home for several nights in a row with bags and bags of ripe apricots, more than we could eat before they went overripe (and believe me, we tried).

I decided to prep one bag's worth for jam-making, to go in the freezer until I had some jam jars freed up from my last batch. In the meantime, we enjoyed a surprise pint jar of homemade apricot jam on our doorstep one morning, courtesy of our neighbor Carrie, who attached a note to the jar: "So that's where all the apricots went!" Ha. She was picking them too. I wonder how many other people in the neighborhood were enjoying these delicious apricots. I'm so glad to live in the kind of neighborhood where people are like this; we've had lovely fruit every year we've lived here from some generous soul or another, and now jam too.



This batch of apricots equaled about three cups of fruit after prepping. I quartered each fruit, peeling each piece after quartering because it was easier to remove the peel from a smaller piece. Then I chopped the fruit into 1/4-inch pieces. I wasn't sure if I should chop them any smaller for freezing; I was concerned that they would break down too much when they thawed. In hindsight, I'd have gone slightly smaller, but it was hard to know.


I put all the chopped fruit in a zippered freezer bag and froze it flat. When it came time to make the jam, I thawed the apricots in their bag inside a plastic container in the fridge.


I decided to use my low-sugar pectin for this jam, as I did for a batch of strawberry jam that I made recently. I have a lot of Ball brand low-sugar pectin that I picked up for a song at the end of the last canning season and I really want to use it up. I liked the way that strawberry jam came out - plenty sweet but not overly so, with a beautiful set. I followed the directions for peach jam on the bottle of pectin; they didn't mention apricots but I'd say they're close enough to peaches.



I'm pleased to report that I'm getting really fast with jam now, especially since I'd already prepped this fruit for the freezer and only had to thaw it and get it into the pot with a few ingredients. I had three full jars and a nearly-full one made up and ready for the canning bath in about ten minutes. I felt like the Jam Master, let me tell you.


I had already tried Carrie's jam, so I had an idea of what mine might be like. Like Carrie's, it's absolutely delicious. The apricot flavor is strong; I think this may be more flavorful than most jams I've made, but I'm not sure why. I have to wonder if it's because the fruit is basically wild - the tree's owners don't do anything at all to it, they just let it flower and fruit naturally. My jam is sweet enough without being cloying. I'm actually beginning to love low-sugar pectin. I started using it just to finish it up, because it was taking up space in my pantry, but now I'm starting to really enjoy it - maybe even prefer it because I know the jam is a little healthier and because it doesn't use up pounds of sugar like traditional jam. I don't know if I will switch entirely, but it's great to know that this works and makes a good product. I loved making this jam, which was almost free, and has friendship and neighborly goodwill all tied in up in the process.

Low-Sugar Apricot Jam
makes about four half-pint jars

3 cups peeled, chopped apricots
1/3 cup water or fruit juice (I used water)
2 tablespoons powdered low-sugar pectin (I used Ball brand)
1 cup granulated sugar

Prepare jars, lids and bands as desired.

Mix apricots, water and pectin in a large saucepan. Stir thoroughly to dissolve pectin. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly until mixture reaches a full, rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.

Add sugar all at once, stirring thoroughly. Bring mixture back to a full, roiling boil. Allow to boil for exactly one minute. Remove from heat.

Ladle jam into prepared jars, wiping rims and adding lids quickly. Process jars as desired (I follow USDA Guidelines for safe home canning).

18 comments:

  1. Looks lovely, we share fruit here too. Hey jennifer, Where do baby apes sleep? .... Jo xxxx :)

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  2. Love apricots, spent a summer as a teenager cutting apricots for drying. Your jam looks great.

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  3. We are also enjoying a slower pace this week since swim lessons have ended for the summer. Your apricot jam looks so delicious! I'd love to have a piece of toast topped with it right now!

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  4. How lovely that they were happy for you to pick the apricots. Apricot jam was my favourite when I was little, my grandpa always got it for me and I absolutely loved it, you have reminded me. Glad the jam turned out so well, it's always good to have a stash ready for those cold months. CJ xx

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  5. It's so pretty and what a wonderful day to get fruit for jam. I think you truly are the jam master! It sounds like you live in a wonderful neighborhood!

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  6. How wonderful that you have all those apricots growing there where you can just go and pick a ton of them! I bet that jam is absolutely delicious.

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  7. How wonderful to have neighbors so eager to share in the bounty on their tree. That jam looks absolutely wonderful. Our local news just said tonight that the peaches are on almost a full month early because of the heat wave. The local orchard’s are trying to get the word out so people will go pick now. If they wait intil the normal time the peaches will be rotted. It’s hard to believe it’s almost time for school to begin again. Most of them don’t start until September here, but I know Piper starts in less than two weeks in Nebraska. Enjoy the last free days of summer my friend.
    Blessings, Betsy

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  8. Wow.
    This is amazing!
    Looks so good.
    Have a cozy evening!

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  9. Yes! Your apricot jam looks and sounds absolutely delicious - I feel I can smell it from here... You are the Jam Master :)

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  10. I am a big fan of apricot jam. How wonderful that your neighbours shared both fruit and jam, sounds like a great neighbourhood community.

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  11. Yum, this looks good. I like how your jam has little morsels of fruit in, it looks pretty. Apricot jam is one of my favourite jams. I made some last year and it was really fragrant, too. I never thought of peeling the fruit. Does it make a difference? I shall try this next time I make some. Apricots are quite expensive here, most shops sell six fruit in a pack! I would love to walk past an apricot tree and just pick a bag full. We share fruit with our neighbours, too. It is such a lovely thing to do. Our next door neighbour's Victoria plum are almost ripe and ready to eat. Breakfast on the go. Enjoy the last few weeks of your holiday xx

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    1. Thanks, Christina. I peeled my apricots because the pectin bottle said to peel them! I don't really know if it makes a difference. Many of my apricots were a little beaten up when we picked them, whether from bruising or bugs, so I needed to remove spots and it was just as well to peel them.

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  12. Hello! Beautiful and delicious pics. Have a happy day. Greetings.

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  13. YUM reckon I can even smell all the way over here in Oz xo

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  14. How lovely to be able to pick all that lovely fruit and turn it into jam. It's a shame that so many people have fruit trees and let the fruit just go to waste, it makes much more sense to share it in this way, a win win situation for everyone.

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  15. Apricot jam is probably my favourite jam of all time – how fantastic to have all those fresh apricots! I'm glad your neighbours were happy to share the tree with you. If you need more apricot ideas, they make a fantastic tart with frangipane. And go really well in a Moroccan-spiced couscous. Sam x

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  16. It's always nice when people share :)

    Jam looks so lovely


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  17. I read your apricot jam making post with great interest today. My daughter and I make apricot jam every year (about 125 jars) and I wanted to let you know that you have an option to process the fruit and freeze them in plastic bags to be made whenever you want. Also, if you use an immersion blender while the fruit is cooking you don't need to peel, and cut up the fruit. The skins disappear into the jam. All you need to do is cut them in half, remove the pit and cut off any skin blemishes. I use 6 cups of fruit and measure them out before freezing. My daughter lives 6 hours away and can't always get here to make jam during the season so this works well for us.

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