This post was more than five days in the making. Ha. I was having a very hard time trying to decide how insanely detailed to get, for instance, over the difference between preserves and conserves. You know me… I love all the details. I could have a written a book (or at least a novella) about Apricot Preserves and all of the things related to them. However, I got a grip on myself. I have decided to save the details for other posts and just focus on the goods for now.
So. I have been making these Apricot Preserves every summer for years. Partly because I love the old-fashioned farmwifey sound of the word ‘preserves’, but mostly because they are awesomely delicious. I love this recipe – it is the perfect balance of luscious apricots to sugar, the perfect texture consistency between light syrup and homemade jam, and the perfect vivid colour and visual appeal. And, big big bonus for me, I can use the apricot preserves in so many ways (scroll down to the end of the post now if you want to see my illustrated guide to some of the different ways you can use the preserves. You’ll be drooling, I swear, and be super hyped to make this awesome recipe!)
The following recipe will assume that you know how to can fruit. If you don’t want to get into canning, I have included instructions for freezing the preserves. (And just so you all know, I got the original recipe from Jeffrey Steingarten‘s book It Must Have Been Something I Ate.)
Makes 10 cups
You can process these preserves in a boiling water bath canner, or something similar (see below). If you don’t feel ready for canning, you can keep the preserves in the fridge for up to 4 weeks, and keep them in the freezer for up to one year. Instructions on all storage methods are below.
4 to 5 lbs of ripe, but not over-ripe, apricots (you will end up with about 8 cups of pitted apricots)
5 cups granulated sugar (I use eco-sweet cane sugar)
1/2 cup water
1 to 2 Tb freshly squeezed lemon juice (depending on the tartness of your apricots)
5 500-ml mason jars
5 lids and screw bands to match the jars
Freezing Prep: Wash the jars in clean hot soapy water and rinse in hot water (you might need a 6th jar). Wash and rinse the lids and screw bands. Wash and rinse a ladle. Have a clean, dry tea towel ready.
Instructions for Preserves
Cut the apricots into quarters and remove the pits.
Place the water and sugar in a large Dutch oven or pot with a heavy bottom. Slowly bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, increase heat to a boil and boil mixture for 2 minutes.
Carefully add the apricots and stir well. Cook, stirring frequently, until the apricots begin to give off their juice and start to lose their shape. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, stirring almost constantly, for a minute or so more. (Go a bit longer, more like 3 minutes, if you are planning to freeze rather than can the preserves)
Turn off heat and stir in the lemon juice. Preserves are now ready for the jars.
To can preserves: You must use the apricot preserves immediately after they are done boiling. Fill warm jars to within 1/2 inch of the top, tighten lids and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes. Remove jars and let cool for 24 hours. Check seals. Store in a cool, dry cupboard. Any jars that haven’t sealed you can place in the fridge and store for up to 4 weeks.
To freeze preserves: Let the apricot mixture cool for about 15 to 20 minutes. Place a folded tea towel on the counter just to the side of the apricot pot. Arrange the jars upright on this towel. Use a canning funnel and ladle (or just a ladle, if that’s all you have) to fill the jars with the apricot preserves. Very important: make sure to leave at least 3cm (over 1 inch) of room at the top of the jar to allow for the expansion of the preserves in the freezer (things expand in the freezer). Screw on the lids. Let the jars cool overnight, and then place them in the freezer. You can leave one or two in the fridge, if you think you will use them up quickly.
Now, I get to talk about all the yummy ways I use my lovely apricot preserves.
An obvious one: on buttered toast
On top of porridge for breakfast (a favourite of my 5-year-old)
Swirled into creamy yogurt (a favourite of my 9-year-old)
On top of fromage frais or cream cheese on toast, or plain (soooo good!)
This one will blow your mind: on top of creamy blue cheese on toast! Foodgasm!
Finally, on pancakes or biscuits
These are just the quick and dirty applications. I haven’t even begun to discuss the pork sauces, the glazed carrots, the burnished roasted chickens, the nut tarts…. Mmm mmm! Go get yourselves some of that!