Apricot preserves, or apricot jam, are a yummy spread with a sweet and tangy flavor that adds a delicious touch to toast or biscuits. Making your own apricot jam is an easy way to enjoy the natural apricot flavor with a bit of zing of tartness.
Amongst the jams I have made, the apricot jam is one of my favorites. In the Czech Republic, it's a common practice to purchase a large quantity of apricots when they're in season and preserve them to enjoy throughout the year. Families and friends gather to process and store the harvest, sharing recipes and techniques passed down through generations.
There's something satisfying about opening a jar of homemade apricot jam when it's cold outside. The jam has a smooth and soft texture, and it tastes fantastic when you spread it on a piece of fresh bread or use it to fill pastries.
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What are Apricot Preserves?
Apricot Preserves are a type of sweet fruit spread. The apricots are diced, mixed with sugar and lemon juice, and cooked until the fruit breaks down and thickens into a spreadable consistency.
Ingredients and jam recipe: one batch of homemade jam.
For the tastiest and most flavorful jam, opt for fresh, fully ripe, and slightly soft apricots. If you can access homegrown apricot trees, local or recently-picked fruit, that's even better! If you use very ripe apricots, you will need less sugar as they are already sweet. On the other hand, firmer apricots are less sweet but contain higher levels of pectin, thus making the preserves thicker.
When selecting apricot varieties for making jam, Blenheim apricots, Katy, or Autumn Glo are the best to work with.
We use lemon juice in this recipe for two essential reasons. First, lemon juice acts as a natural preservative, helping to extend the shelf life of the apricot preserves. Second, it helps to maintain the bright orange color of the apricots. When you cut apricots, they turn darker when exposed to air. But quickly immersing them in lemon juice helps prevent this discoloration and keeps them looking vibrant.
The lemon juice-to-fruit ratio specified in the recipe follows the safety guidelines set by the National Center for Food Preservation for proper canning. To ensure consistency in acidity, I recommend using organic bottled lemon juice instead of fresh-squeezed lemons, as the pH or acid content of fresh lemons can vary.
I'm not a big fan of overly sweet jams and try to use minimal amounts of sugar. In fact, I prefer a slightly sour taste in my apricot jam. However, adding some sugar to achieve a perfect balance that combines sweetness and tartness is essential. Especially if we use lemon juice.
Personally, I prefer using unrefined organic cane sugar in my recipe but feel free to use any other type of sugar that you have available.
Suppose you're planning to can your apricot jam for long-term preservation. In that case, it's crucial to follow the recipe precisely to ensure proper safety. However, if you're only making a single jar and intend to consume it within a couple of weeks, you can use less sugar or explore alternative sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
Why you'll love this recipe!
The combination of fresh, ripe apricots, a touch of tartness from the lemon juice, and the balanced sweetness from the sugar creates a delightful flavor profile that will surely please your taste buds.
This apricot marmalade is a versatile spread with a myriad of uses.
Control the ingredients and customize the sweetness. If you prefer a less sweet jam, you can adjust the amount of sugar or explore alternative sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, allowing you to tailor the recipe to your taste preferences.
By making your own apricot jam, you can capture the freshness and flavors of the apricots at their peak. It's a beautiful way to preserve the seasonal abundance and enjoy the taste of summer all year round.
Apricot preserve recipe
First step: Prepare the apricots.
Wash the Blenheims apricots with lukewarm water, remove the pits, and chop them into small pieces.
Apricots have a hard pit in the middle. To remove the pit, take a paring knife and carefully follow the natural indentation in the fruit. Gently twist the two halves of the apricot in opposite directions, and they should separate easily.
At this stage, you can also clean jars in hot soapy water and set them dry or use a dishwasher to prepare them.
Second step: Combine the ingredients and macerate.
Add the apricot pieces to a large mixing bowl, stir in the sugar and lemon juice, and allow the mixture to sit overnight or at least for several hours. Maceration reduces the cooking time and enables the sugar to emerge from the fruit's juices. It is especially helpful if your fruit is not very soft and ripe yet. It also allows the natural pectin in the fruit to mix, making the jam thicker even before you start the cooking process. I kept the bowl in the fridge overnight and removed it 30 minutes before cooking.
Third step: Cook the mixture and adjust the consistency.
Next day, transfer the mixture into a large pot, add vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes. Stir the jam with a wooden spoon, frequently skimming the foam as needed. As the mixture cooks, the apricots will soften and release their juices. Continue cooking and mix well until the mixture thickens to your desired jam-like consistency. If it thickens and holds its shape, the jam is ready. If it's too runny, continue cooking for a bit longer. I used an immersion blender to break a few extra large pieces. You can also use a masher to puree it into a smooth texture.
At this stage, you can also adjust the taste by adding more sweetener or lemon juice.
Fourth step: Transfer to a sterilized jam jar.
When the jam is ready, remove it from heat, and ladle the preserves into hot sterilized canning jars using a clean canning funnel. Fill the jars almost to the top, leaving about a ¼ inch of headspace at the top if you plan to can the jam, or ½ to ¾ inch if you're freezing it. Before placing the lids on the jars, wipe the rims with a clean damp paper towel. Let them cool down and keep them in the refrigerator for 2-4 weeks.
Do Apricot Preserves Need to be Refrigerated?
This batch of homemade apricot preserves without canning should last 2-4 weeks in the fridge. To maximize the shelf life of an opened jar of apricot preserves, screw the lid on tightly and store in the fridge when not in use.
Store in the refrigerator at all times, even if the jar has been sealed and remains unopened, or store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If you want to store apricot preserves in the pantry, you must go through the canning process (boiling the jars in hot water). It will extend its shelf life to a year.
Fifth step: Canning process (optional)
Place a new canning lid on each jar and screw on the screw bands until they are fingertip tight, but do not overtighten.
Place the filled and sealed jars into a large canning pot with a rack and water bath. Ensure the jars are covered with at least 1-2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil and process the jars for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and carefully remove the jars from the boiling water using jar lifters or tongs. Place the jars on a towel-lined surface and let them cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. You may hear a popping sound as the jars seal. Once the jars have cooled, check the seals by pressing down on the center of each lid. If the cover does not flex or pop, it is properly sealed. If some jars do not seal, refrigerate and consume them within a few weeks. Store the jars in a cool, dark place like a pantry or cellar. Properly sealed jars can be stored for up to a year.
Following these steps will help you safely can your apricot preserves, allowing you to enjoy their delicious flavor throughout the year, and you will never want to buy store-bought apricot jam again.
Questions: Can I use dried apricots to make these preserves?
I haven't done it, but I believe the macerating process will soften them, and they would be fine for boiling with lemon and sugar. However, I need clarification about the specific measurements and cooking times.
Do I need to use a candy thermometer?
It is not necessary to the candy thermometer, I managed it without.
How to use apricot preserves?
The classic way is spreading it on a piece of toast or bread.
Upgrade your pancakes or waffles by adding a dollop of apricot preserves as a topping.
Use it to fill pastries like turnovers, danishes, tarts or thumbprint cookies. The sweet apricot flavor pairs wonderfully with the buttery pastry.
Transform your homemade apricot preserves into a delicious glaze for meats, especially poultry like chicken or duck. Mix the preserves with a bit of vinegar, soy sauce, and spices, then brush it over the meat for a tangy and slightly sweet glaze during the cooking process.
It is a great sweet addition to salad dressing. Mix together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and herbs. Drizzle it over a green salad or use it as a marinade for grilled vegetables.
It perfectly complements cheese. Serve these fruity preserves with a cheese platter, or spread it with your favorite cheese on crackers.
Warm it up slightly and drizzle it over vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. The warm fruitiness of the preserves pairs wonderfully with the cold and creamy dessert.
More Yummy Jams, Salsas, Sauces and Jellies
If you enjoyed the result, you can make another batch tomorrow, perhaps with other fruits. Similarly, you can preserve fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, or wild fruits such as rosehips or elderberries.
And I've never made preserves and jams with canned fruit, so I'm still determining the sugar, liquid, and pectin level.