I used to grow apricots but living in the north of England the climate is not perfect for them. The fruits were often bruised and battered by the weather and windfalls were many. They were however perfect for jam. My tree has since given up and so if I see cheap apricots in the shops that are being sold off because they are over ripe or damaged then I scoop them up ! This recipe contains less sugar than many other apricot jams and I have added powdered pectin to aid the setting. Pectin is readily available but if you can't get hold of it use lemon juice.
Start the night before. If your casserole or preserving pan isn’t non stick then use the knob of butter to rub over the base. This will prevent the jam sticking and burning when boiling. The butter also prevents a scum forming on your jam when cooking.
Stone the fruits and place them into the large pan, sprinkling over the sugar and pectin (or lemon juice) as you go along.
Cover the pan with a cloth then transfer to a cool place (not the fridge) and leave overnight.
The next day uncover the pan and place it over a low heat on the hob. Place a couple of tea plates in the freezer.
Stir the pan of fruits from time to time and once the mixture has lost its grittiness, the sugar has dissolved and the fruits are swimming around in sugar syrup then turn up the heat. Bring the mixture to a fast boil then pop on your timer and boil for 15 minutes.
Whilst the jam is bubbling away sterilise your jars. Wash them in warm soapy water, rinse but do not dry them. Transfer onto a rack upside down and into a cold oven. Heat the oven then to 100 degrees c allowing the jars and the oven to come up to temperature. Keep the oven on for 10 minutes then turn it off but leave the jars inside until your jam is ready. Jar lids can be sterilised by covering them in cold water in a small saucepan, bring them to the boil and boil for 2-3 minutes. Pour off the water and allow to cool down.
After the jam has boiled for 15 minutes it will have reduced and be quite thick. I had some very large apricots which resulted in a chunky jam but I prefer it smooth. A quick blitz with a stick blender disperses them. If you decide to do this – Please take care the jam is very hot and a splash will burn the skin.
Turn off the heat and take one of the plates from the freezer. Place about 1 tbsp of the very hot jam onto the very cold plate and pop it into the fridge for a minute or two.
Take from the fridge and push your index finger through the jam. If it wrinkles and is gloopy and your finger leaves a trail then your jam is done and will set when cold. If, however your jam is still runny, the trail from your finger fills in then boil for a further 5 minutes and repeat again.
Fill the warm sterilised jars, screw on the tops whilst the jam is still hot then label when cold.
This jam will keep for at least a year.
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