It’s time, time to capture the essence of delicious, perfectly ripe summer stone fruit in a delicious homemade jam. Apricot jam is my favorite on hot buttered toast or fresh baguette. The closest I have got to the best jam I’ve ever had, made by our friend Francoise in Provence, from the trees outside her kitchen window is this recipe, closely followed by the Confiture Abricot of Alain Milliat from Epicure Imports. Francoise is one of those perfect French women who make everything seem so effortless – from the perfect jams and preserves neatly stacked in her pantry to a kitchen garden bursting with produce and herbs.
The best part about jam making is having the perfect gift for any occasion. I gave a pot to my fellow Mother Forkers when I hosted the Nigel Slater dinner in my garden – I thought it was a great going home present – and so many of them wrote the next morning to say how much they had enjoyed it for their breakfast. It was reported that the Duchess of Cambridge gave the Queen homemade strawberry jam for Christmas – so if it’s good enough for the Queen I say it’s good enough for anyone on your impossible to buy for gift list!
Jam making is really easy – and for this recipe I kept the quantities small – it makes about 6 little pots of jam. I like to use the Weck deco jars that I sterilize before.
2 pounds ripe apricots
1/2 cup water
5 cups baker’s extra fine sugar (if you like sweeter jam or if the apricots aren’t sweet and juicy you can add an extra cup of sugar)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Makes about 7 little pots
1. Halve and remove the stone of the apricots. This makes for quite large pieces of fruit in the finished jam, if you like smaller pieces you can quarter the apricots at this point.
2. Place a saucer for testing the set in the freezer.
3. Put the apricots in a large pan over medium to high heat, add the water and cover. Stir the apricots frequently as they are cooking.
4. When apricots are soft lower the heat to medium, add the sugar and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring so that the jam doesn’t burn. Skim off any foam from the surface.
5. When the jam has reduced and is beginning to thicken it’s time to do the first set test. Place a small amount of the jam on the chilled saucer and return to the freezer for 2 minutes. Push the cold jam with your fingertip to see if it wrinkles and is set. If it’s still too runny in consistency continue to cook until the perfect set is reached.
6. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
7. Ladle the jam into the Weck jars and place the lids on with the orange rubber seals in place and fit the clips. I find the hot jam is enough to create a good seal (so the lip of the orange rubber points down) but if you want to store the jam for a long period of time you can always use simmer the jars in a water bath for 10 minutes.