Thursday, July 1, 2010

What did I do with all those apricots?

So, remember the bucket of apricots I picked the other day? Since then, I've picked two more buckets! And, now the Santa Rosa plums are coming and I picked a bucket of those. So I was sitting there with probably 25 pounds of fruit and feeling like I needed to do something with it. However, before summer I made a vow to myself NOT to do any canning this summer, as I wanted to eliminate any time-stealers in my summer (I also took a summer Facebook break!). Normally, the fruit is ripe and the pressure is on to drop everything and put up the jam, which takes two consecutive days. I was relieved not to have that pressure right after returning from Resolved. I would just give the fruit away, I thought. Well, I've been doing that, but I still am up to my ears in it.

Well, with such large quantities of apricots still on my hands, I finally gave in. Last night, when nobody was home, I did a smart thing: I prepared and froze my fruit in Ziploc freezer bags for future jam. I portioned it out so that each bag is one batch of jam. I added the lemon juice from the recipe and mixed it in. Now, the fruit is all ready when I want to make some jam. Since the labor intensive (and messy) part of making the jam is done, I can now do the canning when it fits into my schedule.

A word on preparing the fruit. I prepared it by boiling it whole (in batches) for 1 minute in a large pot of water. Then, I shocked the fruit in ice water for 1 minute to stop the cooking, peeled and pitted it, and mashed it up. I know that many recipes call for leaving the skin on, but this method really does yield much more flavorful jam. I do this when I make my plum and peach jam as well.

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Freezer bags of fruit ready to become jam.

Here are two of my favorite recipes for apricot jam, from Linda Amendt's wonderful canning book Blue Ribbon Preserves. Both are amazing recipes. Santa Rosa plums really are superior for the apricot-plum recipe. I had an interrupted love-affair with Santa Rosa plums beginning when I was a child. I used to sit on the shady grass in my grandparents' backyard and eat all the fallen plums right of the ground from a big old tree (yuk, I know). I never forgot the taste - so amazing - and I remember the juice would drip all over my clothes as I ate. I never knew what they were called, or ate anything like them again until I was an adult in my 30's. Then, I tasted a Santa Rosa plum from my friend Lori's tree and knew instantly that was what Grandpa had. The love affair had resumed! I planted one of my own about 8 years ago, and it is so wonderful. I have seen them at Farmer's Markets during the summer - do try them if you haven't, or better yet, plant one. (note: be sure to plant a Satsuma plum tree nearby for pollenation.)

Do scroll all the way down this post, as I have a wonderful apricot recipe at the end!

Apricot Jam

makes about 6 half-pint jars

4 cups pitted, peeled and crushed ripe apricots
6 Tbsp. lemon juice
6 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. unsalted butter
1 (3 oz) pouch liquid pectin (I use Certo)

In a 8-qt. pan, combine the apricots and lemon juice. Stir in about half of the sugar. Cover and let stand 1 hour.

Remove the cover and stir in the remaining sugar. Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the apricot mixture to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring gently. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off the foam.

Return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil again. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off the foam again.

Stir in the butter. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off any foam. Allow the jam to cool 5 minutes.

Ladle the hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process half-pint jars in a 200F water bath for 10 minutes, pint jars for 15 minutes.

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Apricot-Plum Jam
makes about 8 half-pint jars

2 1/2 cups pitted, peeled, and crushed ripe apricots
1 1/2 cups pitted, peeled and crushed ripe Santa Rosa plums or other plums
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
7 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. unsalted butter
1 (3 oz) pouch liquid pectin (I use Certo)

In a 8-qt. pan, combine the apricots, plums and lemon juice. Stir in the sugar. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.

Remove the cover. Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring gently. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off the foam.

Return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil again. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off the foam again.

Stir in the butter. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Skim off any foam. Let jam cool 5 minutes.

Ladle the jam into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process half-pint jars in a 200F water bath for 10 minutes, pint jars for 15 minutes.

And lastly, after preparing all my fruit, and freezing four batches of future jam, I still had some apricots left, so I prepared this apricot crisp. I have never baked with my apricots before. It was simply divine....and I was rewarded for the "fruit" of my labors! Not a bite remained after four of us ate it, and I pretty much licked the casserole dish clean when all left the kitchen. Enjoy.

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Apricot Crisp

1 3/4 lbs. ripe apricots, pitted and cut into quarters
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

In a large bowl, combine and stir together apricots, sugar, cornstarch, salt and vanilla. Pour into greased 8" baking dish or equivalent.

Rinse the bowl. In it, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and butter. Sprinkle over fruit.

Bake at 350F degrees for 40 - 45 minutes or until bubbly. Cool 15-20 minutes before serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

May double recipe and bake in a 9x13 pan.



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2 comments:

Pur et Simple said...

See, now aren't you glad you did that! You'll be especially glad come January when you are dying for a taste of apricots and plums - AND you won't have to buy jam at the store! YUK! :-)

Deidre Johnson said...

Being pregnant and looking at your blog isn't safe- I crave whatever you make :) I think I'll buy up a ton of apricots next time I make a run to the store!!!!