Apricot Jamming

July 15, 2013 · 7 comments

cooking apricot jam // Wayward Spark

Remember how just last week, I was going on and on about how much fun small-batch preserving projects are? Well, those days are long gone. Two days of apricot jamming will put a bit of a damper on the fun factor, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be savoring the fruits of our labor this winter.

funky apricots // Wayward Spark

Henry trims horse hooves for a woman in Corvallis who has an apricot tree in her yard. Most years, she’s lucky to get a handful of ripe fruit, but the seasonal weather conditions this spring and summer have produced a hugely bountiful harvest. Henry traded a horse hoof trim for all-you-can-pick-or-shake access to her tree, a pretty good deal if you ask me.

He brought home about 50 pounds of fruit, most of which were bruised, cracked, scarred, or spotted with brown rot. Many of them were under-ripe, too. They were not pretty, and they needed to be dealt with ASAP.

Cooking dozens of pounds of fruit is a pretty serious task. I was up til midnight on Friday processing jars, cursing myself for not stocking up on Pomona’s Universal Pectin (my FAVORITE), and browsing various apricot jam recipes online. I put up another 12 pints on Saturday afternoon.

cracking apricot pits, extracting apricot kernels // Wayward Spark

David Lebovitz‘s recipe for apricot jam recommends adding an apricot kernel to each jar for an added bitter, almond-y flavor. As you might be aware, cracking apricot pits is not an easy task if you only have a hammer on hand, but I borrowed my parents’ nutcracker (“Lehman’s Best Nutcracker” that I bought them last fall to use for cracking walnuts), and it worked like a dream.

Apricot kernels look like flattish, roundish almonds, and they taste super bitter with an almond extract aftertaste. I nibbled a few, but it’s a pretty intense flavor, so I never made it through a whole one. After reading the Wikipedia article on apricot kernels, I got carried away trying to find a recipe for homemade amaretto, which apparently uses both apricot kernels and almonds. I’m not sure why I would want to brew more booze when I pretty much never drink it myself, but it sounds interesting.

apricot jam // Wayward Spark

In the end (with maybe 10 pounds left out to eat fresh), I made something like 64 cups of apricot jam split among half-pint, pint, and pint-and-a-half jars. Each small batch was a little different, but they were all made exclusively with honey instead of sugar. I like my apricot jam a little runnier than other jams, so even though I was mostly following the directions that come in the Pomona’s package, I cut back a bit on the pectin a bit, and a lot of it came out ideally chunky but pourable. I’m still using and reusing my Tattler canning lids, and I still love them.

There’s no way we can actually eat this much apricot jam, especially considering just how much other fruit going into my chest freezer right now. I’m sure it won’t be hard to give and/or trade away, though, with friends and family. I don’t know anyone who would turn down good apricot-honey jam.

Yossy Arefi picking blueberries // Wayward Spark

On a sort of related note, my friend Yossy, a Northwest native and the mastermind behind the beautiful blog Apt. 2B Baking Co., and her friend Danielle came to visit me during a working/visiting family trip to Seattle. I first met Yossy (@yossyarefi) through Instagram, but then I had the pleasure of having lunch in her Brooklyn apartment when I was in New York this spring.Yossy took some photos of our place and our family, but mostly we just hung out, ate bread and pie, and talked about blogging and freelance careers.

Before they left, I took Yossy and Danielle to Radke’s U-pick blueberry farm, and it kind of blew both of their minds. Radke’s just opened for the season last week, but the pickin’ was super easy, and the bushes were heavy with blue fruit. I’ve written about Radke’s before (U-picking here and Henry’s honeybee pollination here), and I wanted to show Yossy and Danielle the awesomeness of Radke’s beautiful farm. It did not disappoint, and we all had a great time.

We only picked about ten pounds (in maybe half an hour of not-super-serious picking) the other day, but my plan is to go back tomorrow with my mom and start in on the real freezer-filling harvest. You locals should go, too.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda July 16, 2013 at 1:02 pm

So, you like the Tattler lids? I have been wanting to try them since they are reusable! Question: Do these lids require the large headspace that I see in your jars of apricot jam? The Ball Blue Book of Canning suggests only a 1/4-inch headspace, using the standard, one-time use lids. Just wondering about your headspace.

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Camille July 25, 2013 at 6:31 am

I think officially they only need 1/4″ headspace, but knowing my tendency to overfill, I guess I underfilled this time.

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Danielle B July 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm

It was such a pleasure to spend time at your place and to meet your family, thank you for everything!!! Radke’s is STILL blowing my mind!!!

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Eileen July 16, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Making different schnappses and liqueurs is really fun–you should try it! Although I will say that my cabinets are pretty full of the fruits of my labors. I find that we get through limoncello the most readily, personally, but I’d love to try a homemade amaretto. Apricot jam is my favorite–must get some in the cupboard before our season is over!

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sarah birchmoon July 16, 2013 at 9:03 pm

very pretty- all your jars of jam; I love making jam, but for some reason never thought of apricot. Being that they are at my farmers market right now I think I will make some! I totally know the overwhelming feeling of canning too much at one time.! argh!

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