Last year, apricots came and went and few made it through my door. It’s a mystery as to how that happened because there are apricot trees everywhere around here. This year I promised myself that I would get apricots, even if I needed to do some guerrilla apricot picking. Before going guerrilla I made a special trip out to Hillside Farm to pick their apricots, only to discover that they had all.been.picked. We managed to scrounge up half a dozen apricots by climbing very tall ladders, that’s all. My children were very hot and not impressed and I made a mental to note to call ahead next time. Just as I was feeling discouraged by the lack of apricots a friend dropped off two cases of apricots (Thanks Maria!). Then my neighbors brought me apricots from their tree, and then more from their friend’s tree. And just like that I had apricots, lots of them. I may still do some guerrilla apricot picking because I hate seeing apricots go to waste (or any food for that matter) and it’s fun to go rogue for causes like this.
Apricots are such an easy fruit to prepare. There is no need to peel them and even a toddler can open and pit them. We froze most of our apricots and made a few batches of apricot vanilla bean jam. The recipe below is simple and the vanilla bean can be replaced with a couple tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary or a teaspoon of dried chili flakes. A rosemary or spicy apricot spread would work well as a meat glaze or an accompaniment on a cheese platter.
Apricot Vanilla Bean Jam
Makes 6 half pints or three pints.
8 cups apricots, chopped
4 cups sugar
2 lemons, juiced
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
Note: Apricots don’t contain a lot of pectin so this jam tends to be softer. I like my apricot jam soft but if you prefer a firmer jam or a jam with less sugar then I would suggest adding some Pomona’s Pectin which you can get a most health food stores.
Add chopped apricots and 4 cups of sugar to a large pot. Split and scrape the vanilla beans adding the seeds and pods to the pot. Stir to combine the ingredients. Cover the pot and place it in the fridge for a night or two to allow the apricots to macerate. This step could probably be skipped but it’s a great excuse to be lazy and put off making the jam for a couple days.
The next day (or the day after) remove the pot from the fridge. Add the lemon juice. Stir to combine and place the pot on stovetop. Bring the apricots to a simmer over medium-high heat. As the apricots cook and thicken reduced the heat to medium-low. If you prefer a smooth jam you can use an immersion blender or counter top blender to blend some or all the apricots.
Cook the apricots until the jam is thick and shiny, about 25 to 30 minutes. To test if the jam is ready pour a small dollop of jam on a small plate and place the plate in the freezer for a minute or two. If the jam is ready it should gel. The jam on the plate should wrinkle when pushed.
While the apricots simmer, sterilize your pint or half-pint sized jars and prepare your lids. When the jam is ready ladle it into sterilized jars, wipe the rims before adding the lids. Place the jars into a water bath canner and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling process for 10 minutes, making sure to adjust the processing time to your altitude. Remove the jars and let them cool on the counter top. Check the seals and place any jars that failed to seal in the fridge. Oh and don’t forget to lick the pot clean!