Apricot Jam

Summer is just around the corner & is slowly creeping its way into the UK, any trip to the market will confirm a shift into the season as suddenly there is so much more colour & freshness on offer (a very happy sight).

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One of the thing’s that signal the beginning of summer for me is Apricots. From late May to early September, these gorgeous, bright, little stoned fruits are a plentiful & an inexpensive treat throughout summertime. After what feels like a rather long Spring this year, the wild garlic has long wilted & the elderflower will soon have disappeared from its branches, along comes the apricot to welcome us into hopefully sunnier (us Brits can only hope), longer days.

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Not only do apricots signal the beginning of summer for me but they also signal the beginning of the preserving calendar. This jam-addicted baker makes far too much chutneys & jams during the summertime (I suspect even more so this year with so much homegrown  fruits & veggies growing in my garden right now!). I’ve always been a bit of a jam fiend (jam sandwiches were the ultimate childhood treat) & years ago when I began on my baking journey, following bread, I believe jam was the second thing I decided to turn my hand to (well I couldn’t have bread without jam now could I?). 

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I remember being absolutely amazed at just how easy the process was (not to mention cheaper than buying it ready made!), from that first batch of sweet, chunky strawberry jam, I was hooked! Now a serial preserver, I very rarely buy in any preserves now as I’ve always got a sufficient (read: far too much) supply precariously balanced throughout my tiny kitchen to see me through the winter months.

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It all starts with a batch of apricot jam… sunshine in a jar! This is probably one of the easiest jams to make, having a medium amount of pectin in them (the naturally occurring substance found in fruits that acts as a thickening agent, helping jam to set), means it’ll be easier for your jam to reach the right consistency, it doesn’t tend to over or under-set.

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The best apricot jam is one that isn’t too set (but more so than a compote) & not too sweet, retaining some of that wonderful tartness & pleasant fruity tang. It’s the perfect & most pleasant thing to wake up to in the morning, spread thickly on hot slices of toast, crusty bread or fresh croissants.

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I feel as though apricot jam is a little underrated in this country (the French however love it), as folks tend to steer towards a sweeter, usually berry based variety for their toast, but homemade really does trump anything you can buy, it packs in so much more flavour.

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I never find myself without a jar or two or apricot jam to hand in the kitchen as it’s got so many uses, not only on my breakfast, I love it swirled through a thick yogurt, it’s also amazing when paired with cheese (trust me on this) & it’s also what I always turn to to glaze my buns, sweet breads & pastries, I’d be lost without it. So for the next three months you’ll likely find me packing a little sunshine into several jars to hold onto summers finest long into the dark & cold of winter.


APRICOT JAM

Ingredients:

  • 1kg fresh apricots
  • 1kg granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 150ml water
  • Small knob of butter

Method:

  • Before beginning, place a small saucer into the freezer to chill (this will hep us to test the jam later)
  • Roughly chop the apricots into chunks as big or as small as you like & discard the stones
  • Place the chopped apricots, sugar, lemon juice & water into a maslin pan or large heavy bottomed saucepan & give everything a good stir
  • Gently heat the mixture over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved & no grains remain when you run a spoon along the bottom of the pan
  • Add a sugar thermometer to the pan & bring the mixture to the boil
  • Continue to boil the mixture, being sure to stir it frequently so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan
  • Keep the mixture boiling away for around 15 minutes or until it reaches 102°C on the sugar thermometer (it may take a little bit longer, just keep testing every few minutes)
  • Test to see if setting point has been reached by placing a small drop of the jam onto the chilled saucer
  • Leave the drop of jam to cool for a minute & push your finger through the jam, if the surface wrinkles & you can leave a clear trail where your finger went through (the jam doesn’t flood back into the empty space), it’s done. If not continue cooking for a further a few minutes & test again
  • Leave the jam to cool for 10 minutes
  • Add the knob of butter to the jam & stir through to help clear any scum on the surface of the mixture or you can use a slotted spoon to remove any excess
  • Pot up into clean, sterilised jars & label

 

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Check out my 12 step jam making guide for a little help with all things jam!

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