It is the first time, I have made Apricot Jam. Well, the truth is, it is the first time I have made jam of any kind, but it won’t be the last. Armed with some advice from my mum, Faye, I have produced 12 beautiful jars of golden, sweet deliciousness. With this beautiful condiment, I will be able to enjoy the taste of summer far beyond the season. We are currently enjoying the jam in many ways. It is delicious on toast, with croissants or on scones with cream. It also works well as a glaze for pork tenderloin and even drizzled over fresh, tangy goat cheese.
My jam-making occurred as the result of my receiving 20kg of fresh apricots from the Riverland. My friend, Brad, has had a tree-change, giving up flying and following his dream of growing his own produce.
Indeed, I believe home-made jam is a treat, a very rare treat at that.
These days most of us feel that we’re far too busy, or we lack the knowledge, to make our own jam. I will admit, I did invest a few hours in making the jam, but it is time well spent, rewarding me with a fantastic result.
So, if you wish to make your own jam, let me offer a few words of encouragement.
Tips for success when making Apricot Jam:
Home-made jam is the perfect way to use fruit at the peak of its season. To obtain maximum flavour, I encourage you to seek out home-grown fruit. A friend or neighbour may have some fruit they would be happy to share, or, go to local markets and purchase some fruit there. The great thing about making jam is that you can make it in small quantities. But perhaps the best reason is that home-made jam tastes so much better than store-bought jam. Moreover, when you make it yourself, you know that it contains quality ingredients, without any chemicals or artificial preservatives.
Although there is a great deal of science involved in jam making, you don’t need any special equipment.
You don’t need a preserving pan; you need a large, wide saucepan. The large surface area allows faster water evaporation, giving the jam a concentrated flavour. Avoid aluminium pans, the acid in the fruit will react with the pan, giving the jam a metallic taste.
The science of jam making:
For jam to set, acid and pectin are necessary. Pectin is a naturally occurring substance, found in varying degrees in different fruits. When heated to a high temperature, in combination with acid and sugar, pectin forms a gel. Apricots, for example, have a medium pectin content and low acidity, so to boost the acidity and pectin I have added lemon juice. Lemon juice is acidic and has a high pectin content. If you have some slightly unripe apricots, don’t hesitate to use some. They also assist with setting as they contain more pectin and are more acidic.
It is possible to buy jam sugar; this is sugar with added pectin. However, it is not necessary for this recipe, as the jam will set naturally. And about the sugar, when you see it weighed out it is slightly alarming. However, please don’t reduce the amount of sugar. The sugar not only sweetens the fruit but it helps the jam to set and acts as a preservative. If you reduce the sugar, in short, your jam may go mouldy.
To begin, cut the fruit in half and remove the stone. Place the fruit in a large, wide saucepan, add a little water to begin the process and bring it to a gentle simmer.
The fruit will release liquid as the temperature rises. When the fruit softens, I add the sugar and stir to dissolve. When the sugar dissolves, boil rapidly, stirring frequently to prevent the jam catching on the bottom of the pan. Continue to boil for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. You can test for
There’s something very satisfying about making jam. Make the most of seasonal fruit with this simple pleasure.
More delicious jam and spread recipes:
Your jam will sit in your cupboard for months, encouraging you to find new ways in which to use it. Home-made jam also makes a lovely gift. For attractive presentation, cut a circle of coloured paper or cloth, place over the lid and tie with a pretty ribbon.
Please let me know in the comments below if you try this.
- 2.5 kg fresh apricots * approximately 5 lb
- 1/4 cup water 60 ml
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice * 60 ml
- 2 kg granulated sugar * 3 3/4 lb
- 12 medium sized sterilised jars with metal lids – see below for details*
- Wash the apricots and pat dry. Cut in half and remove the stones. Remove any blemishes*.
- Place the apricots in a large, wide saucepan* and add the lemon juice and water.
- Bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a long-handled wooden spoon*.
- Cover the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until the apricots are tender and cooked through, 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, put 2 small plates or saucers in the freezer.
- Add the sugar to the apricots and stir constantly, without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to boil the liquid off. Continue to cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture does not catch and burn on the bottom of the pan.
- For clear jam, skim off any foam that rises to the surface.As the mixture thickens and reduces, stir frequently. At this stage, the jam requires your attention so do not venture too far away from the stove.
- When the jam looks thick, after boiling for about 20-30 minutes,* turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on a chilled plate. Let it stand for a minute to cool then push your finger through the jam. If it wrinkles, even slightly, it is ready. If it is still quite liquid put it back on the heat for a further 5 minutes and check again.
- When the jam reaches setting point, skim further if necessary and then set the jam aside for about 10 minutes. This helps any pieces of fruit to be evenly distributed when placed in the jar. Without standing, the fruit will rise to the top of the jar.Carefully ladle the jam into the heated, sterilised jars*. It goes without saying that you need to be very careful. Splashing yourself with hot jam will result in a very serious burn. In fact, I suggest you have clothing with long sleeves and ensure that you do not have children nearby.
- Cover tightly with the metal lids and leave to cool.Wipe the jars to remove any spills and store the jam in a cool, dark place.
- When using the jam, always ensure that you use a clean, dry spoon to prevent mould. As a further precaution, store the opened jar of jam in the fridge.
To Sterilise the Jars
- Choose glass jars with an airtight, metal lid and ensure they have been washed by hand in hot soapy water then rinsed well. Check that the metal lids do not have rubber inserts.Preheat the oven to 130oC/270oF. Place upright jars and lids on a baking tray. Heat in the oven for at least 20 minutes, then remove and immediately fill with jam.
*It is essential to use just ripe, or slightly unripe, fruit. Bruised or over-ripe fruit is not suitable. Remove any minor blemishes such as sunburnt sports or evidence of bird pecking.
*Fresh lemon juice not only balances the sweetness of the sugar, it also helps the pectin to set the jam.
*Do not reduce the amount of sugar. The sugar not only sweetens the fruit but it helps the jam to set and acts as a preservative. If you reduce the sugar, your jam may go mouldy.
* I use recycled jars with metal lids that are in good condition. Choose glass jars with tight-fitting lids and ensure the lids do not have rubber inserts. See the notes above re sterilising the jars.
* Always choose your widest saucepan that has enough height to enable the jam to boil vigorously. More surface area means the liquid can evaporate faster and having sufficient height means you can boil the jam at a higher heat.
*To stir, use a long-handled wooden spoon. Metal will become dangerously hot.
*If your finished jam has not set as much as you would like, don’t worry, it will still be delicious stirred into some plain yoghurt or served over our no-churn vanilla ice cream. Or if it is slightly over-set and is very firm, it will be a lovely accompaniment on a cheese board.
Boiling time depends on a number of factors, the width of your saucepan and the heat at which the fruit is boiled.
*It is best to ladle the jam into hot jars to avoid them cracking.