This Apricot Jam Recipe couldn't be simpler, and it celebrates the sweet freshness of sun-ripened apricots. These are one of the summer's succulent stone fruits.
Why Make Your Own Jam?
There is something so satisfying about making your own jam. Even more so if you picked the fruit yourself, and even more if you actually grew it. Homemade jams taste like nothing that you can buy at a store.
There's nothing like a taste of fresh summer fruit in the depths of winter, and homemade jams make that possible.
Best of all, its really easy to make jam, and it makes a lovely gift, too.
Jams and Jellies; What's the Difference?
Jams, jellies, preserves, and marmalades are all fruit-based soft spreads but each has their differences.
Jams, like this apricot jam recipe, or this Spiced Plum Jam With Cardamom and Cinnamon are a thick mixture of crushed fruit and sugar, using the whole fruit.
Jellies, such as this Homemade Grape Jelly or Pear Jelly, use only the juice, rather than the whole fruit. Pectin is always used in jellies because most juices don't contain enough natural pectin to form a jelly. You can make jellies out of just about any fruit or vegetable. One of my favourites is Pepper Jelly
Preserves are like a cross between jams and jellies. Usually, preserves are chunks of fruit or whole berries that are suspended in clear jelly.
Finally, marmalades are citrus preserves. They use the peel of the citrus fruit and are tart and sweet at the same time.
What is Pectin Anyway?
Pectin is a naturally occurring starch contained in the cell walls of fruits and vegetables. When pectin is combined with an acid, such as lemon juice, and sugar, it forms a "gel". Some fruits such as apples and citrus peel are naturally high in pectin.
Commercial pectin is made from orange rinds and you can buy it in liquid or powder form.
Commercial Pectin does have an expiry date, so be sure to check that before using any pectin that's been in the pantry for a while. Although expired pectin is harmless to consume, you are taking the risk of your jam not setting up.
Do I Need Pectin to Make Jam?
There are many jams that you can make without pectin. This Two-Ingredient Rhubarb Jam Recipe is a great example. There are differences between jam made with no added pectin, powdered pectin, and liquid pectin. Here's the explanation of those differences.
No Added Pectin
Jams made with no added pectin are softer and less "jelled". They require a longer cooking time to concentrate the fruits' natural pectin. The longer cooking time will give the jam a darker colour, and a smaller yield for the quantity of fruit required. This Two-Ingredient Rhubarb Jam Recipe is a good example of a jam made with no added pectin.
Jams made with added pectin have a shorter cooking time resulting in a fresher tasting jam. Powdered pectin must be fully dissolved in the fruit before adding the sugar.
For this apricot jam recipe, I used liquid pectin. Because the pectin is already dissolved, jams made with liquid pectin require the least amount of cooking time. This results in a fresh, fruity tasting jam with a bright colour.
What Equipment Do I Need For Jam Making?
You probably have everything that you need for making jam right in your kitchen. Although you can buy canning tools to make things easier, it isn't necessary. Here's a list of essentials:
- A large, deep pot. It should be deep enough to submerge the jars and allow for rapid boiling.
- A rack to lift the jars off the bottom of the pot to allow boiling water to circulate the entire jar. This can be a cake cooling rack or a roasting pan rack if it fits your pot. You can also use twist ties to tie together extra screw bands for a makeshift rack.
- Glass canning or mason jars. These must be authentic canning jars and they are the only containers for safe home canning.
- Jar lids and screw bands. You will need a two-piece lid for each jar, consisting of a flat lid and a metal screw band, or ring which threads over the neck of the jar to hold the lid on while heat processing.
If you are new to home preserving, check out this handy guide: Jams & Jellies
Can I Reduce the Amount of Sugar?
The answer, for this recipe, is no. Jams and jellies rely on an exact balance of sugar, acid, and pectin in order to set. Cutting the amount of sugar is running a risk that your jam won't gel. Although it does seem like a lot of sugar, it is divided by 6 jars, and even then, the jam is used in small quantities. And, its meant to be sweet.
How Long Will My Homemade Jam Keep?
Properly processed and sealed jars of jam will keep in a cool, dry cupboard or pantry for up to a year. Check the seals before storing them. The lid should be sealed tightly and the "button" in the center of the lid should be depressed. In fact, you will probably hear the "pop" as each jar seals.
How To Use Apricot Jam
This jam is delicious on toast or bread, of course. But there are many other ways to use it. Try some of these ideas:
- On waffles, pancakes, or french toast
- Top vanilla yogurt or ice cream with a swirl of jam
- As a glaze for baked ham or grilled pork chops
- Put some in your oatmeal
- Use for thumbprint or sandwich cookies
- Mix with some lemon juice, heat, and use as a bundt cake glaze
- Mix in a little chilli sauce and toss chicken wings
- Put some on a cheese board (it's heavenly with brie)
- Use some in a vinaigrette
Apricot Jam Recipe
- 5 ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 4 cups ripe apricots pitted & finely chopped
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- 1 3 oz pouch liquid pectin
- Put a rack on the bottom of the canner and fill with enough water to cover the jars and bring to a simmer
- Add 6 empty 8 oz canning jars to the simmering water & leave until ready to use. Bring a small pan of water to a simmer and put the jar lids in the hot water. Turn off heat.
- Pit and finely chop apricots
- In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine apricots, sugar, and lemon juice.
- Over high heat, and stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.
- Stir in pectin, and boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly
- Remove from heat and skim off foam
- Remove hot jars from canner and ladle hot jam into jars, leaving a ¼" headspace. With a damp cloth or paper towel, wipe the jar rims to remove any spills. Top each jar with a lid, then thread the screw bands on until just finger tight.
- Return fills jars to the boiling water canner and process for 10 minutes
- Place jars on a towel on the counter and allow to cool
- Check the seals (see note below), label and store