Eat them fresh, then make some jam
I am so lucky to live on The Granite Belt, a place with an amazing food and wine culture. To me, it is the gem of Queensland and there is no better time to be here than when the stone fruit is ready for picking. This week it’s apricots.
Last week I visited Eve’s Fresh Produce in Cottonvale, 20 km north of Stanthorpe, just off the New England Highway, where apricot picking has started. The day was perfect and we headed out into the orchard, basket in hand to pick some of the first fruits.
After picking, we returned to the packing shed for a catch-up with Warren where we just couldn’t resist trying some of the fruit.
The perfume of the fresh apricots filled the car as we drove the short distance to where the kitchen was ready to receive the bounty of our harvest and to start making jam. Traditional apricot jam is so easy to make and when the fruit is in season, very economical. Here is my recipe:
- 1 kg apricots, stones removed and roughly chopped.
- Water as needed
- 1 kg sugar
- 15 grams Classis Pectin, or Standard Pectin (Classic Pectin is from citrus and Standand Pectin is a blend of citrus and apple pectin)
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Prepare your 250 ml jars and lids by sterilising them in boiling water for ten minutes.
- The sterilisation step can be skipped and you can use washed, rinsed, hot jars if you are processing for 10 minutes or more in the boiling water bath at the end of the recipe.
- Place your chopped apricot into your preserving pan with some water and cook on medium heat until the fruit has softened. The amount of water used will depend on the ripeness of the fruit. The riper the fruit, the less water is needed. Start with ¼ of a cup of water and add more if needed. The point is to make sure the fruit does not start to stick and burn. Stir frequently.
- Give the fruit a bit of a mash with a potato masher to release some of the juice and natural pectin.
- Once the fruit is cooked you are ready to add your other ingredients. Remember, you make jam out of cooked fruit, not raw fruit.
- Remove 1/4 cup of sugar from your 1 kg of sugar and mix 15 grams of pectin with it. Add this to the cooked fruit and mix it in well.
- Once the sugar/pectin mixture has dissolved, add in the remaining sugar, and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and mix until dissolved.
- Bring the jam mixture back to a rolling boil and boil for 2 minutes. Your jam should now be ready to bottle.
- Remove from heat.
- Using a ladle and jar funnel, place your jam into your hot, 250 ml jars, leaving a one-and-a-half centimetre headspace.
- Clean the rims of the jar, to ensure you get a good clean seal, and cap with your new lids. I reuse my jars many times, but I always use new lids.
- Process your filled jars in a boiling water bath for five minutes. Alternatively, if you did not pre-sterilise your jars and lids, process them in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
- Once the processing time is achieved, remove the jars using your jar lifter and allow them to cool on the kitchen counter.
If you are concerned that the jam may not have set, you can do a cold plate test. Put a small plate in the fridge at the beginning of your jam-making, so it will be ready to use when you need it. Once you have cooked your jam for two minutes at a rolling boil, remove it from the heat and do the cold plate test. To do this take a teaspoon of the hot jam and place it on the plate. Pop the plate back into the fridge for one minute. Remove the plate from the fridge and using your finger, push the jam to see if it is set. If it is set, it should wrinkle. It is also sometimes called the wrinkle test.
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Eve’s Fresh Produce. The fruit was delicious and the jam turned out wonderful. I will have the taste of summer in a bottle long into the winter. Give this traditional jam a try.
As always, live well.