(Click here for the soundtrack to this post.)
I’ve been feeling a bit funky for the past few days… and that is not in the sense of funky cool like Bob Marley. I’ve just been in a funk, bored with everything I’m doing, a bit irritable, and quite negative. I’m not sure why — maybe because my husband is busy studying for his upcoming exams, and I’m running out of things to keep myself busy and out of his way. I tried quite a few approaches… I went to the garden store and planted more things in the garden (sage, lavender, basil, parsley, and some bell peppers!), I went shopping for new clothes, I went to church, I went jogging this morning.
I also marked off the start of my local farmer’s market on my calendar (June 8th — only a few more weeks!) then headed out to my favorite produce grocery, and I found apricots! Now there’s a fruit to change up my apples and bananas routine and encourage a little kitchen enthusiasm.
I’ve made a delicious apricot crisp once before. I also used to love drinking canned apricot juice when I was younger (that sounds strange now), but otherwise me and apricots do not have a much of a history, except in my dreams. I’ve recently seen recipes for apricot-glazed chicken, apricot empanadas, apricot pop tarts, apricot thumb print cookies… All these call for apricot preserves, so what to do except start jammin’!
A lot of people find cooking to be a good therapy. The process can be calming, the results rewarding. I was a little nervous considering my first attempt with strawberry-rhubarb jam this year, but I forged ahead.
I found the following quick jam instructions in my Good Housekeeping Cookbook. I didn’t use pectin as suggested in their original recipe, and I found that the apricots seems to have enough pectin in their skins alone. This jam set. but it is a little thinner than most james, and I am ok with that! I’ve also gotten a little more comfortable with the jarring process, but I didn’t go through the final water-bath step — maybe I’ll be ready for that when I get the right equipment, but I heard the seals pop on these jars from just the heat of the jam. This is a small batch recipe. I only got 2-1/2 half-pint jars. The jam should keep well in the fridge for up to three weeks… or maybe it will disappear into some of aforementioned recipes much sooner.
I felt a little bit better after completing my jam session this afternoon… then I went jogging this evening again, this time with my husband who kept me to pace, and felt much better. Maybe I’ve just been sitting on my bum too long… or maybe just missing being the center of my husband’s attention?
I guess that’s why I’m looking forward to summer… lots more sun, reggae music, truly fresh fruit, and lots less exam studying. And by the way, I’m hoping to do a lot of jammin’ throughout the summer now that I’m getting the hang of it… so I hope you like jammin’ too!
2 cups fresh apricots, roughly chopped (do not peel)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Wash jars, lids, and bands with hot soapy water and rinse. Fill a large stock pot with water to cover jars. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, cover, and let jars rest in hot water for at least 10 minutes. Do the same for lids and bands in a small sauce pan.
Meanwhile, combine apricots, sugar, and lemon juice in a large sauce pan. Bring a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil, for 2 to 3 minutes until thickened.
Remove jars, lids and bands from hot water using tongs and drip dry on a clean kitchen towl just before jam is finished cooking. Ladle jam into jars, use a clean towel to clean any drips from rims, cover with lids, and screw on bands. Set jars on a kitchen towel to cool evenly. Let sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours, then freeze for up to a year or keep in fridge for up to 3 weeks.
By the way, after my first fumble with strawberry-rhubarb jam, I discovered food52 was holding rhubarb preserving parties! I missed the sign up back in March, but I am seeing some reports on results now, and what a great idea! I want to jam with you! Drop me an email at raisinquestions (at) gmail (dot) com if you are in the New York metropolitan area and have some canning expertise to share with me!
For example, here’s a question: If you reuse jars, can you also reuse lids? I read in my cookbook that used lids should be discarded and new ones used for a new batch…but that was the first time I came across that suggestion. What do you do?
I really want a grilled cheese and apricot sandwich…