Friday, January 11, 2013

More apricots, well lots actually

I have some very fond memories of myself and my sisters perched in an apricot tree with the cousins or the neighbors, devouring the juiciest, ripest apricots on a warm sunny day.  

I love living in the Lowveld and the abundance of mango and litchi in summer, but I do miss a fresh peach or apricot.  Nothing beats a sun-kissed summer fruit straight from a tree.  

Luckily, I found a huge pile of very fresh, just ripe apricots in our local fruit market the other day and I could not resist.  I started putting a few in a bag and then got carried away.  Well, really carried away and ended up buying eight kilograms of the blushing fruits.  

I had a plan though, that all started as another fond memory of a few family members, often my paternal grandmother and my mother and whomever got roped in, making jam.  We would all gather around a huge jam pot, chatting, peeling, discarding pips or stirring, tasting.  

My next stop after town was at my mom's house with a request for her to join me in my jam making quest.  Firstly, because I have never done such a vast quantity before and secondly, because making jam requires chirpy company.  It just does.  And yes, we did fill a 50kg pot with apricots and sugar and ended up with lots and lots of jars of golden goodness. 

Apricot jam

8kg apricots
8 kg white sugar

and a really big pot.  Of course, you can make small quantities.  Just use equal quantities of fruit and sugar.

Remove pips from the apricots and remove all blemishes with a sharp knife. 
Place all the fruit in the pot and add sugar.  Let stand overnight, then stir and place on the stove on a medium-high heat.  Stir slowly, but constantly until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture starts to boil.  Reduce the heat and stir occasionally.  When the mixture starts to thicken, remove the majority of scum.  The mixture will darken (more than commercial apricot jam - an almost deep orange-brown).  At this point you need to check the consistency regularly by dribbling a small amount onto a small plate.  Once cooled, the jam should be slightly thick.  Again, it is thinner than commercial jams and will set more once completely cool.  Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool completely overnight.  Decant into sterilized jars (I washed mine in the dishwasher, probably not what staunch jam makers would do, but it worked for me) and close properly.  


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