Apricots. Just the name can make your mouth water. I love them, as a matter of fact, I think I am in love with them. I grew up in a house with pretty substantial old world influences foodwise. We ate what was in season and we were lucky to have lots of fruits and vegetables during the summer. Fresh apricots, strawberries, sour cherries and regular cherries were a sure sign that it was June. Then it was peaches in July….we ate them while on vacation to the Black Sea, sizzling our skin on the sunny beach. The fragrance of the juicy peaches, while breathing the salty air of the sea, will stay with me for the rest of my life. In the month of August meant we ate copious amounts of plums, grapes were reserved for September and quinces for the rest of the fall.
Too bad apricots are not exactly big in the US. Many fresh apricots, while pretty, are dry and tasteless. Others are mealy/mushy. But if you get one that is just right, it is pretty much fruit perfection. I miss them terribly. There’s nothing like a perfect apricot. The pale orange color of the fruit’s skin and darker inner pulp is so distinctive! The fruit is velvety and appealing to hold and touch. And oh, that fragrance…Maybe writing this post makes me finally admit how in love I am with this little fruit.
This past weekend, we visited the local Co-op where we found organic apricots. Sadly, they were not as flavorful as I remember them, so I decided to make them into jam and add ginger, almonds, and mint. They needed some help to become glorious. As a rule, I do not can if the produce is not organic. Who wants to eat preserved pesticides anyway?
By the way, did I tell you that I am a jam hoarder? Yes, I am, and I am very proud of it! I did not hoard jams until I moved to the US many years ago.
We live in Minnesota, the growing season is short and many fruit trees cannot make it in these long, cold winters we have. So, I started to collect jars of jam, especially the ones made with European fruits. And I have friends! Friends who really love me, because every time I go back to Romania for a visit, I receive lots of jars with fruit preserves as gifts. Sour cherries, quince, or rose hips are some of my favorites. Also, green walnut or rose preserves are some special ones. My maternal grandma used to grow few very fragrant rose bushes in her garden just for this purpose.
My daughter called me the other day telling me, that since she has come back to the US from her year studying abroad in Europe, she has not been able to find good jam for her morning toast. I had to solve the problem immediately, so I sent her a jar of this apricot jam in a care package and she’s been enjoying it every morning every since.
The combination of ginger and mint is amazing and the almonds add an interesting texture to it. A slice of good bread with butter is all you need for this jam…perfect snack or dessert. Growing up, this was our regular snack. Bread, butter, and marmalade, jam or preserves were all we needed. The preserves are low in calories and provide the perfect amount of sweetness when it comes to a sweet tooth.
I made a very small batch just for immediate consumption. The recipe is very easy to follow, so if you have access to apricots, I dare you to try it. Kids will enjoy it too (I know my own big kid enjoyed it). It is great for breakfast, snack or dessert, as a topping for ice cream or rice pudding.
The apricots become quite tangy as you cook them, so as a rule of thumb, for each pound of fruit, use half pound sugar. I do not recommend going with less sugar as it will not set correctly. Also, as the fruit becomes tangy during the cooking process, you need that amount of sugar in it.
- For each pound of apricots chopped you will need:
- 1 half pound granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp ginger powder
- ¼ cup slivered roasted almonds chopped small
- ½ tsp dry mint
- First, wash and then cut the apricots in half and extract the pits.
- Chop them into small bits and place them in a stockpot.
- Add the sugar, ginger and dry mint.
- Mix and let everything sit together for about an hour, to release the juices.
- Then, place the stockpot on the stove on medium heat and cook the fruit uncovered.
- Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. As the mixture thickens and reduces, stir frequently to make sure the jam isn’t burning on the bottom.
- Add the chopped almonds.
- When the jam looks thick and is slightly-jelled, turn off the heat.
- (You can use a candy thermometer if you wish. The finished jam will be about 220ºF, 104ºC.)
- Once done, ladle the jam into clean jars.
- Cover tightly and let cool to room temperature, flipping the jar upside down.
- Once cool, refrigerate until ready to use.
- In my experience, this jam will keep up to one year if refrigerated.
- If you want to make jam for the winter consumption, please refer to the USDA canning guidelines for instructions.