Going for gold

Crack the apricot pips to get the kernels inside, and then blanche them to get the brown skins off.
Crack the apricot pips to get the kernels inside, and then blanche them to get the brown skins off.

It hasn’t been a great year for apricots. There weren’t that many, and they weren’t quite the magnificent thing they are most years.

Last year it was a daily fight with the possums, who would rip the netting apart each night to get to the fruit. This year, they barely bothered.

The near-constant rain and cold when the tree was in blossom really did this magnificent fruit no favours. (On the other hand, my still-young apple trees, which flower much later, are having their best year yet).

So, I had a decent bowl full when it came time to strip the tree, but not much more than that.

I used about a third to start this year’s rumtopf (recipe and details here), and the rest went into a simple apricot jam. It’s a classic.

The usual jam rules are to use perfect, firm, just ripe fruit. I broke those, mostly. Some of the fruit was definitely a touch overripe, but they were still perfectly edible. And I have never understood the “perfect” rule. Isn’t the traditional point of jam to use the imperfect, excess fruit?

Apricot jam

1.5kg apricots, washed and halved
1.25kg sugar (a little more if you like it sweeter)
juice of one lemon
a dozen or so of the apricot kernels, skinned

Apricot jam is one of the classics.
Apricot jam is one of the classics.

Start the sugar, apricots  and lemon juice on a low heat until the sugar melts into the fruit juices. Whatever water is there from washing the apricots should be enough liquid, though you can add a very small amount if you need to.

Crack the apricot pips carefully, and put the kernels into boiling water for a couple of minutes, just long enough to get the brown skins off. Add them to the jam.

Bring the jam to a hard rolling boil. You will have to stir regularly because it can burn quite quickly.  Boil at least 10 minutes, and after that check for your preferred consistency. Apricot jam, for me, is often best still soft and a bit runny.

Put in sterilised jars (I put them in the oven at 100C for at least 10 minutes), and cap while still hot.

This makes half a dozen smallish jars.

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