Almost annual apricot jam
September 6, 2014 § 7 Comments
I’ve made a batch of apricot jam every summer except one (when I missed the short season during which apricots are available in New York) since I moved into my own apartment in Brooklyn, in 2001. Even last year, when we arrived in Brussels at the end of June and had a few other things to occupy our time (like unpack our entire household), I couldn’t resist the beautiful specimens I saw at the outdoor market. They were from Provence, and were perhaps the best I have ever eaten: sweet, juicy, and heavily perfumed. I bought 5 kilos. I quickly realized that, of all the decisions regarding the many mounds of stuff I either gave or threw away in preparation for our move, one of the few I regret was getting rid of my Ball canning jars. I thought it would be silly to bring two or three boxes of empty glass jars halfway across the world, so I listed them for free on Craigslist—and must have gotten close to fifty responses.
I figured I could find some canning jars here fairly easily, but with a very large box of ripe apricots and no luck finding any jars in our new neighborhood, I decided to store the jam in the freezer. I had never done done this before, and I was happily surprised with the results (though I shouldn’t have been surprised because my mom makes delicious strawberry and raspberry freezer jams). But I like the act of canning. It requires a blank slate of sorts. You must clear the counters and submit to an almost surgical mise-en-place. You have to slow down and focus on nothing else for that period of time in order to correctly execute each step of the process. And at the end, you have a stack of pretty jars to eat yourself (I mean share with your family) or give away.
By the time canning season rolled around this year, I had found where I could buy Weck canning jars, which I’d been wanting to try anyway. They must be one of about, I don’t know, zero other things I’ve found that are cheaper here than in the U.S., so maybe it was meant to be. When the time was right, I went back to the same market stall and bought 5 kilos of plump, sweet apricots (you get a good deal when you buy 5 kilos), and got to work. I have always used Martha Stewart’s basic recipe, but I can no longer find it online, so this year I consulted David Lebovitz’s delicious rendition for the correct proportions of fruit/sugar/lemon juice.
Martha suggests always adding a few apricot kernels, as they do in France, for a more complex flavor. And since I’ve done this from the beginning, I see no reason to stop now. Plus, it’s fun to have an excuse to wield a hammer in the kitchen.