[blank]You know how some smells and perfumes can take you back in time – shoot you back to the memory of a particular day or place? ….
That is what apricot jam does for me … whenever I undo a jar I am reminded of a day in France. As a young girl on a school exchange I was staying with a family in a chic little town in the Loire.Twice a week we were invited to tea at the Grandma’s home, and she would serve us a glass of milk with a slice of brioche and home made apricot jam – I loved it! It seemed so French, and so elegant, yet simple.[blank]
[blank]Today it is still a favourite at our breakfast table. Little individual brioches fresh from the local bakers, a pot of home made preserve … what more could you need?
I’ve tried different recipes for apricot jam, but this is my favourite because it uses the kernels. The ingredients should make you four pots of jam.
You will need
2 lbs (900g) of ripe apricots
2 lbs ( 900g) sugar
the juice of a lemon
The night before making the jam, take a large preserving pan. Wash and halve the apricots, be sure to keep the stones to one side. Layer the apricot halves and the sugar in the pan, add the lemon juice and leave overnight to get the juices running and preserve the pieces of fruit.
Crack the stones with a nut cracker or a hammer, and extract the kernels. Blanch them in a jug of boiling water, then slip their skins off to reveal the creamy white heart.
The next day, pop a couple of plates into the freezer, these will be useful to test for setting of the jam.
Make sure your jam jars are clean, dry and preferably slightly warm.
Place the pan over a medium heat and let the sugar dissolve completely. I find this takes at least 10 minutes. When you are sure that all the sugar is melted and free of granules, then turn up the heat and bring the fruit to a boil. The preserve will need to boil for about 20 minutes, but if you want to keep that lovely summery flavour then don’t let it boil too long, or start to caramelise.
To test for setting, take one of the plates from the freezer and drop a teaspooon of fruit onto the centre. Wait a few seconds then gently push with your finger. If the surface of the jam crinkles then the jam is set and you can turn off the heat. If it is still fluid, then boil for another five minutes and try again.
When you are sure the jam is cooked, simply drop the kernels in and let the jam sit for about 15 minutes. Pour into the warm jars, add a pretty label once they have cooled down.
Summer in your pantry![blank]