Jam-making is one of those skills that is coming back into vogue. Canning and preserving seasonal foods -- once a necessity -- has turned into something fashionable. While some of us have grandmothers who can teach us the ins and outs of canning and preserving, others have to turn to other resources. Luckily, it's easier than you might think to make perfect apricot jam, step-by-step; everything you need is right here.
First things first, wash the fruits you plan to use. Jam is perfect for using up slightly bruised or over-ripe fruits, as the natural sugars in them will come through in the jam, so don't worry about using bruised fruits in this recipe. While you're at it, be sure to sterilize your jars and lids as well!
If you're using organic apricots--as well you should be!--a quick rinse under cool water should do the trick. Place them in the confiturieror any other heavy-bottomed pot and rinse them, then drain them well.
Next, it's time to remove the stone from the fruits. Split them opened down the natural seam with your fingers to remove the pit quickly and easily.
Next, add the sugar to the fruit. In France, I like to use a special type of jam sugar that contains sugar, citric acid and pectin. If you can't find jam sugar where you live, a combination of 1 kilo jam sugar, 1 packet of pectin, and a squeeze of lemon juice will do the trick nicely.
It will look like a lot of sugar... never fear! You're looking for 1 kilo of sugar per kilo of fruit.
Use a wooden spoon to mash the fruits, crushing them and combining them with the sugar until you achieve the texture you desire.
The sugar should dissolve into the juice of the apricots. If you like, leave larger chunks of fruit for a chunkier jam, or mash them further to get a smoother purée.
When you have achieved the texture you like, it's time to cook the jam. Bring it up to a boil slowly over low heat, stirring occasionally.
When the jam comes up to a boil, set a timer for 10 minutes. Stir the jam occasionally. Some foam may rise to the top as you cook the jam. This foam isn't dangerous, but you should skim it off before jarring the jam. It can be saved in the refrigerator and used on your morning bread, but if it is left in the jars, it may cause them to spoil.
When the jam has simmered for 10 minutes, turn off the heat. Ladle the jam into clean jam jars and fasten the lids.
Process the jars in a canner with enough water to completely cover the jars. First, bring water to a boil. Place the jars into the canner and process -- or boil -- for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the jars and let them cool completely.
That's all there is to it! Follow these steps to the letter, and fairly soon, you'll be making your own apricot jam at home.
If you have any questions on safety of preserving or canning, please see the USDA's National Center for Home Food Preservation guide.
All other images courtesy of Emily Monaco