Old English cookbooks are filled with recipes to preserve
green apricocks, presumably because the apricots growing on our warm garden
walls didnít always ripen fully. This
recipe is based on an eighteenth century English receipt, but itís for ripe
apricots. The fruit is left to macerate in sugar for 24 hours.
Since apricots have medium-levels of pectin, I add some
lemon juice to the recipe to help set the jam.
If the apricots are very sweet, add up to another lemonís worth of
juice. Older recipes often instruct the
cook to peel the apricots, but I love the texture of their skin in the jam, so leave
European apricots start to appear in the shops in Britain in
June, but I usually wait until July to make my jam, when theyíre more plentiful
and therefore cheaper.
Note: If using imperial measurements, allow 2lb of
stoned apricots to 2lb sugar and 1 lemon.
Makes about 1.2kg
1.2kg whole apricots Ė you need about 1kg stoned weight
about 1kg granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 Wash and
carefully dry the apricots. Halve or
quarter the apricots depending on whether they are small or large.
2 Weigh the fruit
and then weigh out the same weight of granulated sugar. In a large china bowl mix the fruit
thoroughly in the sugar, making sure that there is a good layer of sugar on the
top. The easiest way to do this is with your hands Ė just wash thoroughly with soap before getting stuck in!
3 Cover and leave
for 24 hours. You donít need to chill the
fruit mixture. The sugar will extract
some of the fruitís juice and partially dissolve into a syrup.
4 The next day,
shortly before you are ready to begin cooking the jam, sterilise some jam jars
by washing them in hot, soapy water, rinsing clean and placing in an oven set
at its lowest temperature to dry.
Alternatively, wash in the dishwasher and leave to air-dry. I re-use old honey and pickle jars with plastic-lined
screw top lids that I also clean in the dishwasher. Make sure the lids are completely dry after
5 Place 2 saucers
in the fridge to chill Ė to test later whether
the jam is ready to set.
6 Scrape the
apricots and all their sugary juices into a preserving pan and stir in the lemon
juice. Clip a jam thermometer to the edge of the pan. Set over a low heat and stir regularly until
the sugar has completely dissolved into a clear syrup. Itís important not to allow the mixture to
boil until the sugar is completely dissolved.
If the mixture gets too hot turn off the heat and continue to stir until
it has cooled slightly.
7 At this stage,
turn the heat to high and bring the mix up to a full boil. Cook briskly, stirring regularly to stop the
jam sticking and burning, until you have just exceeded jam setting point at 105įC
on the jam thermometer. Remove from the heat and double-test for the
setting point by dropping some of the jam liquid on to a cold saucer. Allow it to cool slightly then gently push
with your finger. If it wrinkles, then
it has reached setting point.
8 If you donít have
a thermometer, boil the jam hard for 8-10 minutes after the sugar has
dissolved, then remove from the heat and test for setting. In either case, if the jam has not reached
setting point, boil for another 2-3 minutes and test again.
9 Skim off the
excess froth from the jam and allow to sit for 15 minutes. This will prevent the fruit from floating to
the top of the jars when filled.
10 Decant the jam
into your sterilised jars, and either cover the hot jam with a disc of waxed
paper (wax side down) and then cover tightly with a dampened cellophane disc,
secured with a rubber band; or wait until cold, then seal with washed and dry
screw top lid. Label, date and store in
a cool, dry place. This jam keeps very
well Ė up to several years.