Apricot Jam

Food in Jars Mastery Challenge #6

Participating in this month's Mastery Challenge was easy because making apricot jam has become one of my annual traditions. My good friend Michelle shared this recipe with me a few years ago and I've been making it ever since. She, in turn, learned it from her mother-in-law. It's perfect in its simplicity and I feel that it's stood the test of time.

I prefer homemade apricot jam over store bought - it's not overly sweet and it has a better consistency (I like it a little looser, more easy to spread). I also use more apricot jam throughout the year than any other jam. I mix it into my morning Greek yogurt, I use it in baking to glaze tarts and fruits, and it's delicious on toast.

This recipe is so simple and uses just three ingredients - apricots, sugar, and lemon. I think it's a good recipe for someone just starting out making jam. Just follow all of the well-documented instructions for canning and canning safety. Michelle also told me that you could skip the water bath and keep the jars in the fridge for several months. Her family goes through it quickly so there's no concern about the jam going bad.

Michelle also pointed out that this recipe is very similar to one published by David Lebovitz for his No-Recipe Cherry Jam. It's a matter of knowing the right proportions of fruit to sugar.

This recipe uses a 1:1 ratio of fruit to sugar. I usually use 4 pounds of apricot. Now that bags of sugar are 4 instead of 5 pounds it makes measuring easy. For this amount of apricots I use the juice of 2 lemons. Everything goes into one of my largest pots.

The fruit is stoned and cut up (no need to remove the skins). At first it may seem that there isn't enough liquid but the fruit will start macerating quickly. During the cooking process quite a bit of foam is generated and it has to be skimmed off. There are times that I feel that the foam will never go away but eventually it does. As with many things it just takes patience.

Once the foam is removed the jam will start to darken as it continues to cook.

The jam is cooked to the preferred consistency (using your favorite method for testing e.g. the plate in the freezer method). Next it's run through a food mill to remove the skins, using a medium-sized hole so bits of fruit remain (you don't want it too smooth).

Steaming hot jam run through a food mill

Finally, the jam is ladled into sterilized jars and processed in a water bath.

When all is done I have jars of beautiful, jewel-toned apricot jam ready for the coming year.