Saturday, June 19, 2010
When I found myself with two sinks full of very tasty apricots, I decided to make some jelly...or preserves or jam or conserves--something like that. First, I cleaned, cut and pitted. Then I tried to find a good recipe. Since my cookbooks all had widely varying ideas, I consulted the ultimate authority: the internet. There I found more recipes--no two the same. Some said to mash them and boil for a minute, others to dice them and boil them for twenty five. Some measured the apricots by cups, others by pounds. All required a lot of sugar, but even there the recipes didn't agree on the amount. It seemed odd to me that warnings on every recipe advised following it exactly or....YOUR JARS WON'T SEAL.
Well, I had no way of measuring the already boiling apricots, so I just guessed at all of it, adding stuff here and there. While I was careful to properly clean the jars and handle the lids, I wasn't particularly careful about all the other instructions.
Guess what? They all sealed anyway, and I now have 13 pints of wonderful apricot jam, and two quarts of apricot syrup for waffles. It all tasted wonderful...SO I'm writing my own recipe, of course, to add to the mish-mash on the internet.
Step One--Pick good apricots. If they taste bitter when you eat them fresh, they will make nasty tasting jelly.
Step Two--Clean the apricots in cool water to wash off ants and such. Cut off really bad spots and take the seeds out.
Step Three--Heap a large pan full of apricots and set it on the stove. (One site said don't use an aluminum pan because the acid would react and make the jelly taste metallic. I'm not sure it that's true, but I used a steel pan, just in case.) Add a half cup of water or less if you want to, put the lid on and cook it on low until it boils. Stir it a lot. Mash the apricots with a masher if you feel like it. It'll give you something to do.
Step Four--When the apricots boil, add about four pounds of sugar. Stir until you see that they are thickening somewhat. Let them keep boiling with the lid off so you can watch.
Step Five--add some lemon juice, or condensed orange juice from a frozen concentrate, or both if you want to, or neither. It doesn't matter really.
Step Six--add some vanilla or almond extract, or a little cinnamon, or all of these or none.
Step Seven--Skim off some of liquid on top, particularly if you seem to have a lot. Save this for waffle syrup. It's really good and if you have enough, can a jar of it too.
Step Eight--Add one or two boxes or bags of pectin (Sure-jell or another brand). (If it's the powdered kind, dissolve it first in a little water or juice from the fruit) (Or just pour it into the pot and stir until it's all melted--whatever.)
Step Nine--Stir, Stir, Stir until it reaches a jam-like consistency. Don't let it scorch!
Step Ten--Pour it into the sterilized (or just washed in the dishwasher) jars, being careful to fill them almost full--leave about 1/4 inch only--put the lids on, tighten the rings.
Step Eleven--Turn all the jars upside down for five minutes. (One of the recipes warned me that there would be dire consequences if I skipped this so I dutifully turned all mine over and, sure enough, they all sealed--but so did the syrup, and I hadn't turned it over.)
Step Twelve--Turn all the jars upright, listen for a faint pop, watch the jar lids to make sure the convex bubble in the lid turns concave, tighten the rings again. Label the fruit. Take a picture. Go write a blog entry.