Maybe it is because we have spent this past year eating mostly mulberry jam that was the result of last year’s bumper crop. Or, maybe it is a childhood craving coming back to haunt us.
Either way, Tim and I have both been dealing with some crazy hankerings for apricot jam.
A few days after realizing that something needed to be done to remedy the situation, I took a trip to the grocery store. There, right in the middle of the produce section, was a huge basin of apricots.
It was fate. Sweet, sweet fate.
As I started making the jam, I realized I was almost out of pectin. Not a big deal really, since I’ve been making jams with and without pectin for the past few years. Last year, my jams were turning out well with pectin, so I stuck with it. This year, however jams have been a bit of a struggle, even with the pectin, so I decided to do some research, and try my hand at jamming the way grandmas have jammed for ages (any time prior to the 1900s in fact): without commercial pectin.
Pectin is a naturally occurring carbohydrate that is concentrated in fruit’s skin and the core. In the fruit, pectin actually helps build and form the cell walls. When cooked, acid draws the pectin out of the fruit. The released pectin then binds with itself, causing jams and jellies to gel.
Apples, crab apples, raspberries, blackberries, currants, cranberries, concord grapes, plums and the skin of any citrus fruit have more than enough natural pectin and acid to gel with only added sugar.
Apricots, blueberries, cherries, peaches, and strawberries typically need some sort of added pectin or acid.
Do you see a problem?
Apricots fall in the “need more pectin” group. This was quite curious, since many of the recipes I found for apricot jam did not add pectin or high pectin fruits.
The only way to tell was to plunge forward.
We chopped the fruit (Saving the pits to make almond extract. More on that one later!), mixed it with sugar and lemon juice and started to cook.
Cooking a jam without pectin does require a longer cooking time. For us, it took about a half hour to reach 220F, the jellying point. While the longer cooking time does result in less jam (more time for liquid to evaporate), it also starts to caramelize the sugars, giving the jam a nice, deep flavor.
So, what was the jelling verdict?
This definitely isn’t a hold-its-shape kind of jam. It is incredibly spreadable and fruity, a natural feeling jam, with an overwhelming amount of that classic apricot jam flavor.
- 3 lbs whole apricots, pitted and diced (roughly 8 c chopped)*
- 4 c sugar
- ¼ c lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best)
- Clean your lids and jars, and place lids and jars, upside down, in a 200⁰F oven.
- In a 3-4 qt soup pot, mix all of the ingredients. Heat over medium, stirring often, until the mixture begins to bubble and foam. (For us, this was about 20 minutes.)
- Place the candy thermometer in the mixture and turn the heat to high. Continue to heat the mixture, stirring constantly. (At this point, you may want to put on an oven mitt. As the jam thickens it will begin to foam, sputter and spit. This is good; it means things are getting jammy. But, it’s not too good if you get hit.)
- Once the mixture reaches 220-222⁰F, remove the jam from the heat. (For us, it took 8-10 minutes to reach the jamming temperature.)
- Using oven mitts, remove the hot jars from the oven. Ladle the hot jam into the hot jars, filling to ¼” of the top. ( ¼” is roughly the width of then nail on your little finger.) Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp towel to remove any sticky spillage. Top the jar with a hot lid and band. Tighten the band as tight as you can. Repeat until all the jam has been jarred.
- Process your jars using your preferred method. (We like the French Canning Method, which, although not recognized by the FDA, simply involves turning the jars upside down on a cooling rack, and uses the heat of the jam to activate the seal. We leave the jars upside down for 20-30 minutes, or until we hear the seal pop. Then we turn them back right side up to finish cooling.)
- Whichever method you use to process your jam, remove the bands after the jam has cooled. Check the seal on your lids and refrigerate any jars that have not sealed. Wipe the jars down one last time to remove any sticky bits before placing the bands back on the jars and storing the jam.
Can you believe it is August already? This weekend the Sunday Supper crew is kicking off the end of summer with a lineup of recipes to help you preserve those summer flavors and make them last throughout the year!
Learn how to …
- Dry Fruit – No-Dehydrator-Needed from Take A Bite Out of Boca
- Freeze Cherries from Pies and Plots
- Freeze Herbs from Rhubarb and Honey
- Make Freezer Harvest Soup Kits from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Make Pesto Cubes from The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
- Make and Freeze Rosemary Butter from Momma’s Meals
- Make Ready to Blend Smoothie Packs for Your Freezer from The Educators’ Spin On It
- Oven Dry Cherries from The Redhead Baker
Sip sunny cocktails and smoothies
- Blueberry, Peaches and Cream Green Smoothies from Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Green Tea and Chocolate Saketini from Ninja Baking
- Sangria from Confessions of a Culinary Diva
Scoop up special salsas and sauces
- Classic Freezer Tomato Sauce from Noshing With The Nolands
- Peach Salsa from The Texan New Yorker
- Pico de Gallo from Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
- Spicy Apple – Carrot Chutney from What Smells So Good?
- Spring Conserve from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Jump into jellies, jams and preserves
- Apricot Habanero Jam from Food Lust People Love
- Corn Cob Jelly from Daily Dish Recipes
- Hot Pepper Jelly from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- No Pectin Apricot Jam from Curious Cuisiniere
- Peach Preserves from Delaware Girl Eats
- Pineapple Mango Moscato Jam from Seduction in the Kitchen
- Raw Raspberry-Vanilla Chia Jam from Shockingly Delicious
- Savory Fig and Sweet Onion Freezer Jam from Peaceful Cooking
- Spicy Ginger Tomato Jam with Coconut Sugar from Sue’s Nutrition Buzz
- Spicy Red Pepper Jam from The Wimpy Vegetarian
Pucker up for pickles
- Bread and Butter Pickles from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Pickled Beets and Onions from Kudos Kitchen by Renée
- Pickled Green Tomatoes from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Refrigerator Pickled Jalapeños with Herbs from Magnolia Days
- Refrigerator Pickled Radish and Turnips from The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
- Refrigerator Pickles from Webicurean
- Sweet Pickled Cauliflower from Because I Like Chocolate
Slurp and spoon soup and a side dish
- Easy Garden Fresh Tomato Basil Soup from Neighborfood
- Savory Summer Kimchi from A Mama, Baby & Shar-pei in the Kitchen
Dive into divine desserts
- Easy (no machine) Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream from Mama Bee Does
- Freeze ’em For Later Peach Berry Hand Pies from eating in instead
- Frozen Yogurt Covered Blueberries from Peanut Butter and Pepper
- Lemon and Blackberry Meringue Cakes from Happy Baking Days
- Lemon Curd Coffee Crumb Cake with Vanilla Drizzle from Wallflour Girl
- Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream from Killer Bunnies, Inc
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