Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Little Bums

Apricots are my little darlings of the fruit world. Their velvety skin, golden with sun-kissed coral cheeks, their sweetly tart, juicy flesh, their love of being stewed and cooked, their ability to be delicious in a sweet or savoury dish, all of these things put apricots right up there with fresh figs, summertime strawberries and wild Ontario blueberries for me.

The B.C. apricots are ripe right now, and every year as soon as I find them, I make jam. I have tried variations, adding the little almond inside the pit (blanched and chopped) is one that I love, but this year, I'm in a bit of a pinch for time and I don't feel like taking a hammer and splitting pits in my kitchen (it's actually a lot more difficult than it may seem). So I experimented and came up with a lovely Apricot jam with vanilla and lemon juice. I make it the French way, macerating the fruit and sugar overnight and then boiling until the natural pectin thickens. This makes a jam that is dark golden orange coloured and lovely with it's sweetness and tartness mingling.

My French Style Apricot Jam

1 kg ripe apricots (weigh after removing the stones)
850 g sugar
juice of 1 lemon or lime
1 vanilla bean

The night before you want to make the jam, quarter apricots and place in a large, heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid. Add sugar, lemon or lime juice and vanilla bean, which you should split down the center and scrape the seeds out. I usually cut my vanilla bean into 3 pieces so that a few of the jars have a pretty length of vanilla bean inside. Give this all a good stir so that the sugar begins to melt a little and leave out on the counter all night.

The next morning, give another good stir and place on the stove turning heat to medium. Bring to the boil and allow to boil for at least 1/2 an hour and up to 45 minutes stirring occasionally. Sometimes I help the fruit along by gently pressing it into the side of the pot while it cooks and other times I just let it do it's thing. Either way you know it's going to taste amazing. When it looks thick and dark golden, pour it into sterilized jars and put the sterilized lids on tight, then invert the jars for a few minutes. I left my jars inverted for the day and when I flipped them back over the jam was stuck on the lids. Not a big deal, but a little funny looking and slightly annoying when the time comes to open them. Don't forget to label the jars with the date. If you keep them in the fridge I think they might last a little bit longer, but they can be stored at room temperature for at least 6 months if they've been properly sterilized. I'm not going to get into sterilizing jars, but if you've never done it, do a quick google search, I'm sure you'll find lots of tutorials. I do mine in the oven and I boil my lids. 

This jam is so heavenly spooned over a good piece of crusty baguette smeared with goat cheese. Mmmmmmmm.....now picture eating this while sitting in an apricot orchard with little goats walking around nibbling the grass.




2 comments:

nycrun said...

cute
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lemon_tart said...

Haha, little bums!