19 July 2010

We're jammin'

Growing up with a jam-eating father, a garden full of fruit trees, and the European heritage of thriftiness, jam-making figured largely throughout my childhood.  My German grandmother has always sent us her clear Gellees made from wild forest raspberries, Preiselbeeren, and Johannisbeeren on a yearly basis.  And on the few occasions she's come out to visit us during the summer, she'd make us batches of jam from our California strawberries.  Clearly, if you eat a German breakfast of Brötchen or Butterbrot every morning, there is a great need for jam!

With the supply of fruits from our garden and the demand for jam, my mom has led the way in making jams and jellies from our apricots, plums, pomegranates, and muscatel grapes.  Now, you wouldn't know it by looking at our apricot tree, but this has been a good season for apricots in Santa Barbara.  For some strange reason, our tree produced a grand total of about half a dozen apricots, and I was feeling a little sad that homemade jam didn't seem like an option this year.  But then a coworker told me about Vincent Farm here in town, which opens up to the public for "you-pick" organic Blenheim apricots, and it just so happened to be that they were finishing up a bountiful harvest!

I managed to get over to the farm on the second-to-last day of the you-pick season, and, basking in the sunshine, a gorgeous ocean view, and the serenity of North Goleta, I got to select my own perfectly-ripe apricots from the orchard trees.  It was so fun to have an apricot harvest after all, even though my tree at home was on vacation.  And the price ($2 a pound) couldn't have been better!


Later that same day, my mom and I got together and washed, blanched, peeled, pitted, and cooked those fresh beauties into another year's worth of delicious apricot jam.   This recipe has been our go-to recipe for years...and we especially like that it is just simple ingredients coming together, no pectin needed!

BTW, Vincent Farm is located at 230 Winchester Canyon Road, Goleta, California.  If you would like to get email alerts on their latest harvest (they have apricots, plums, and I hear they're working on a grapefruit-blood orange hybrid), give them a call at 968-9310 and ask to be added to their email list.

Homemade Apricot Jam
Adapted from Better Homes Cookbook

3 lbs. of whole apricots (use just-ripe, unblemished fruit)
1/3 cup water
3 cups sugar
2 Tbs. freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Wash the apricots and then blanch briefly (~15-30 seconds) in boiling water until skins just burst, then peel skins off and cut away any brown spots (especially around the stem).  Remove pits and any membranes or fibers in the pit cavity.

Measure out 4 1/2 cups of fruit into a large, non-reactive pot.  Puree with an immersion stick blender and then add the water.  Bring fruit puree to a full rolling boil, then add the sugar and lemon juice and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the fruit reaches the desired thickness (about 7-8 minutes).

Remove fruit from heat and skim off any foam that may have formed.  Pour into hot, sterilized jars* and seal with sterilized lids.  (Using a clean, sanitized funnel makes filling the jam jars a whole lot easier.)  Let jam cool to room temperature and then store in a cool place (such as a cellar or refrigerator).

* To sanitize jars, submerge clean glass jars and their metal lids in boiling water for about 10 minutes.  Use tongs to handle jars and lids.  After draining jars of water, keep jars upside-down on a clean kitchen towel until ready to use.  Fill jars while still hot.


Young Adventures... said...

Hi Erica!

I just got six apricots from my CSA today and I wanted to make a small batch of jam. Do you think I could halve your recipe? I think I have 1 1/2 -2 pounds, they are med-large size. Thanks for your help!


erica said...

Hi Rachel,
I just saw your post on your new home canning kit--how fun! I think scaling this recipe down should work just fine for producing a good-quality jam. Happy jamming! :)


P.S. I had a fantastic appetizer recently of goat cheese topped with pureed apricots (skin+fruit) and topped with a dusting of cayenne pepper...just another fun apricot recipe idea!

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