I usually don’t like to be variety-specific, but I must admit that my real secret in this recipe is using locally grown Blenheim apricots in season. It is really amazing to work with this fruit, as it is the only fruit I have discovered that actually wants to become jam. Most fruits you need to work with and coerce to become that delicious, velvety spread. But the Blenheim apricot practically jumps into the pot and transforms itself! I also think this is one of the rare fruits that actually tastes better as jam than it does raw. This is one of our favorite jams year after year, and we recommend that you make a good amount of it when apricots come into season.
I am sure you can use other varieties of apricots, too—the apricots that are best for jam are dense, not too watery, and have a strong sweet-and-tart flavor. While I usually recommend that you choose 80 percent ripe fruit and 20 percent underripe fruit for your low-sugar jams, apricots are my exception to this rule because they gel up fine every time even though they don’t have a lot of pectin. They’re much more forgiving than other fruits in this matter. This makes apricot jam a wonderful place to start making jam.
Makes five 8-ounce jars
- 4 pounds apricots
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 pound organic cane sugar
Wash the apricots and dry them thoroughly so you don’t add any water to the jam. Tear the apricots apart with your hands to remove the pits and blossom stems. This technique is much faster than using a knife and creates a wonderfully chunky texture.
Put the apricots in a large bowl and drizzle the lemon juice evenly over the fruit. Pour the sugar evenly over the apricots, cover, and let macerate at room temperature for 12–48 hours. If you need to let them sit longer, place the bowl in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Put five plates in the freezer so they’re ready for your gel test at the end. Prepare five 8-ounce jars for storing the finished jam.
Put the contents in a nonreactive pot large enough so that it’s no more than one-third full, and bring it to a boil over high heat. It’s amazing how much juice is pulled out of the fruit! You’ll need to boil it on high heat and stir frequently to avoid scorching until the desired gelling point is reached. You can mash the jam with a potato masher while it is cooking if you’d like to make a smoother consistency.
Recipe reprinted from “It Starts with Fruit” by Jordan Champagne, with permission by Chronicle Books, 2020.