There is nothing like an apricot right off the tree, nothing. Eating one is like putting a ball of sunshine in your mouth. Apricots from the farmers market are pretty darn close. Not perfect, but a lot closer than what you get at the supermarket.
So as the season was coming to an end, I thought it time to put a little bit of that sunshine in a jar.
Just a lot of apricots, a lot of sugar and a little lemon.
Then you’ve got yourself a warm ray of summer — any time of the year.
How to do it, after the jump.
Cut the apricots in half and take out the pit. Let them sit in sugar for at least 3 hours, even longer if you can.
Squeeze a whole bunch of lemons.
Put the apricots in sugar in a pot over medium heat and let the sugar melt a little. Then add the lemon juice.
Bring it all to a boil.
When this foamy stuff comes to the top, scrape it off with a spoon. You’re going to take some of the juice with you. Don’t worry about it.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil to sterilized your jars.
Add a splash of vinegar to the water. This helps keep the glass in your jars clear, not cloudy.
Put the jars in. Having one of these special tongs helps, but if you don’t have one, you can always put rubber bands around a normal set of tongs for that extra stickability.
Boil them for 10 minutes, then they’re all clean and safe.
Meantime, check on your apricots. You will have put a couple of plates in the freezer. Take some of the juice out of the apricots with a spoon and put it on a frozen plate. Drag your finger through the juice. If it stays separated, then you’re ready to go. If it falls back to center and is still pretty runny, cook a bit longer.
This is looking pretty good:
Time to fill ‘er up! These canning tools help a lot. The wide-mouth funnel helps the apricots get in the jar without sticking to the neck and the edges of the jar. You want to keep those clean so you’ll have a good seal on the jar.
I like to fill all the jars first, then move on to sealing them.
Some people say to use this stick (or a chopstick or a knife) to get the air bubbles out before processing the jam. I think it’s optional.
Now THIS thing is worth the admission price of a canning set on its own. It’s a metal magnet that helps you get the lids out of the boiling water after you’ve sterilized them. It makes it so much easier.
Try to hold the lid by its edges, not underneath where it will touch the fruit:
OK, all set to process!
Put the apricot jars back into the canning pot, and boil for 10 minutes.
Pull them out with your handy dandy tong thingies:
Let them cool on the counter.
You’ll start hearing the *ping!* of the jars sealing, and when you do, you know it’s safe to keep those jars in a dark cool place for a year (I’ve done it even longer). If they don’t seal? Don’t worry. Just put the jar in the fridge and eat the preserves within a few weeks.
4 pounds apricots
7 cups sugar
Juice of 4 lemons
6 quart jars with clean lids and rings
Place 3 saucers or salad plates in the freezer. Wash the apricots and half them. Remove the pits.
Layer the apricots and the sugar in alternate layers in a large bowl and cover. Leave for several hours or overnight.
Put the apricots and sugar in a large pot. Heat on low, stir gently (so the apricots don’t break) then add the lemon juice. Raise the temperature and bring to a boil for about 10 to 15 minutes. Skim off any foam that rises to the top.
Meanwhile bring a large pot of water with a splash of vinegar in it to a boil to sterilized your jars. Place your jars in the boiling water and sterilize for 10 minutes. Just before you are ready to can, remove them with tongs but don’t let them cool. Bring the water back to a boil.
Test the set with the cold saucer: place a little of the liquid on the plate and let it cool a bit. Run your finger through the liquid. If it stays separated you know your apricots have gelled.
Ladle the apricot conserve into the jars, being careful to keep the rims clean and allowing about 1/4 inch space to remain at the top of the jar. Place your lid and ring on top. Place the jars back into the boiling water and process for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove and let the jars cool You’ll hear a PING as the lids create a vacuum. If they do not, the conserve is still fine, but you should keep the jar in the fridge and eat it within a month or so.
Otherwise, label and store in a cool dark place for up to a year.
Makes about 6 quarts.