Thursday, 1 January 2015

My Mum's Amazing Apricot Jam

What is there not to like about a luscious Apricot Jam!

During our Australian summer we are certainly spoiled when it comes to an abundance of this favourite Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fruit . Apricots, grown since antiquity, are thought to have originated in China and to have been bought to the western world by Alexander the Great.

We have a family Christmas tradition of enjoying seasonal homemade jams with our buttery crossiants for Christmas morning breakfast. Imagine my excitement then when I received a call from brother-in-law Con, to help myself to the abundance of fruit on his loaded tree - before all the fruit were eaten by pesky parrots!

The arrival of the apricots in my kitchen started a flurry of jam making activities! And, on Christmas morning, we spooned generous dollops of apricot jam onto our warm crossiants - and were instantly transported to heaven!

For me the ritual of making apricot jam is also an activity loaded with loving memories of my late Mum. Of the huge apricot tree that grows outside what was her kitchen. And, of carefree holidays on the family farm - my childhood home. Just precious weeks before she passed away Mum closely supervised my making of the annual supply of apricot jam! How I treasure the memories of that jam making - and those special moments spent with her - in her kitchen, stirring that jam on her stove.

Naturally I use my dear Mum's tried and true recipe for Apricot Jam - and continue to use imperial measurements for this jam!

Do invest in a good candy thermometer - it takes the guessing out of when your jam has reached setting point - and results in perfect jam every time!

Jam making takes time and patience - and so is a rather 'zen-like' activity in our busy, rushed lives! Do breathe deeply, relax and enjoy the whole experience!

My Mum's Amazing Apricot Jam

4lbs sliced apricots
3lbs white sugar


Choose apricots that are not over ripe. Wash and drain the fruit. Cut into slices discarding the stones and any bruised areas. Place in a large bowl and cover with the sugar. Let stand overnight.

Next morning place the mixture into a large pan greased with butter - this step of greasing the pan is important!

Bring the apricot mixture slowly to the boil, stirring regularly and watching carefully, adjusting the temperature where necessary, during the 'foamy stage'. The butter will make the sides of the pan more difficult for the foam to climb and help to ensure your mixture does not boil over. Believe me when I say that boiling the jam over creates an incredible sticky mess on your stove top - and spoils your jam making experience! See below - I should have followed my own advice!

Bring the mixture up to a rapid boil and stir constantly using a long handled wooden spoon - do not leave your jam! Do be extremely careful tending the jam during this cooking stage as boiling jam spits and can cause nasty burns if it lands on your bare skin.

I prefer my jam to be 'soft' in consistency - and have found that boiling the jam until it reaches 103 degrees Centigrade achieves my desired result.

Take your jam off the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Use a pyrex jug (this is not a sponsored post!) to pour the hot jam into sterilised jars. I used to sterilise the jars in the oven but now using the dishwasher is my preferred method.

Fill the jars almost to the brim - the jam will shrink slightly as it cools. Screw on a sterilised lid, or top with transparent preserve covers. I use Kleerview made by FowlersVacola (this is not a sponsored post) - which are found, at this time of year, usually located somewhere near the sugar in your supermarket aisle.

Label. Store in a cool dark cupboard - and enjoy over the coming weeks and months!



 Footnote: It can be tempting to use the cheapest sugar on the supermarket shelves for your jam making. I have found through experience that these sugars result in a poor quality jam. Mum did warn me! She always used sugar made by CSR (this is not a sponsored post!) - and believe me when I say it does make a difference!

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