Monday, June 7, 2010
I always use my pasta cooker with strainer insert to water bathe smaller batches of jam because my large pot heats up my kitchen so much and takes forever to boil. I can fit about 6 jars at a time in my pasta cooker, so I need to boil the jars in two batches. Alternatively, you can simply invert the newly filled jars on your counter for about ten minutes to seal them. I have never tried this, but Chez Madelaine who wrote Gourmet Preserves recommends this easy method. Good canning tools to have on hand include jar tongs and a funnel which are usually available at your local hardware store.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: about 1 hour and 45 minutes
Yield: 8 half pint jars
4 pounds of apricots, pitted and quartered
7 cups of sugar
3 "bitter almonds" or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Juice from 1 lemon
1.Wash jam jars with hot, soapy water, dry carefully with a clean dishcloth, then place on a baking tray in a 180 degree oven to sterilize. Wash rings and jar tops and set aside.
2. Toss apricots with sugar in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add lemon juice and bitter almonds or extract, and toss well to combine. To remove the bitter almonds from the pits of the apricots, simply crack the pits with a hammer (gently) and remove.
3. Turn stove to high and bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about one hour, or until jam sets when drizzled over a frozen plate. Make sure to skim the foam that rises to the top...save it to drizzle over ice cream. When the jam is done, it will have reduced by about half in the pot, and be sputtering. You may even be able to see the bottom of the pot when you stir. You need to stir frequently during this hour to ensure that the bottom does not scorch.
4. While jam is simmering, fill your pasta pot or hot water canner with water and bring to a boil.
5. When jam is set, remove jars from the oven and wipe rims and lids with vodka. Remove the bitter almonds from the jam. Using the funnel, carefully fill jars with jam, leaving about 1/2 inch head space in each jar. Wipe rims with vodka again to clean off any drips and top with the lids.
6. Screw on the bands loosely and using the tongs, carefully place them in the insert of you pasta pot or water canner. The water in the pot should cover the lids by about 1 inch. Vigorously boil the jars for 12 minutes, remove from water using the tongs and set on a clean dishcloth to cool. Each lid should "ping" and have a tight seal. If a jar doesn't seal, refrigerate after it is cool and eat within 2 weeks. All the sealed jars will last at least a year in your pantry.