I learned two things this weekend. One, David Lebovitz is right: a spritz of kirsch is apricot jam is freakin’ amazing. And two: when Sean Timberlake of Punk Domestics texts you a picture of sev-er-al pounds of perfect Blenheim apricots that he needs to dispose of because he “overbought”, you drop what you’re doing to go receive this generous gift. Apparently Everything Under the Sun farm had a bumper crop blowout. No canner could possibly walk past a 20 lb. box of one of God’s most perfect fruits for a mere $20.
I’ve made apricot jam many times and it’s always good; my method (not a recipe) is below. But I was looking for some little twist, just that little something uuumphy to make it wonderful. And baby, I found it!
Daddy David, every blogger’s favorite ex-pat, of course had the answer: a tiny splash of kirsch (cherry liquer) at the finish to add glitter to the flavor and made it more bright and apricot-y in every way.
Surely David has an exceptional bottle in his larder; if I’d had it on hand, that’s what I would have used as well. But I had a bottle of, essentially, homemade cherry liquer/extract that completely fit the bill. The last time I canned sour cherries, about two years ago, I saved all the pits in a jar, poured vodka over them to cover by about two inches, and then forgot about it in the back of my dark liquor cabinet. (Thank you, Karen-of-the-past!) Today I have sanguine gold.
I was so inspired by finding and using the cherry liquer that I did the same thing with the apricot pits. Plunked them all into a bottle, covered them by vodka by a couple of inches, and then set it in the way back of my liquor cabinet to enjoy when I find it in a couple of years. Karen-of-the-future will be so happy!
Method (Not a Recipe) for Your Own Damn Apricot Jam
- Kosher salt
- Lemon juice (fresh)
Wash, halve, and pit at least a couple of pounds (or more) of apricots, preferably Blenheims. If ya like, collect the pits into a bottle, cover with vodka by at least two inches, then wait 2-3 short years to have a nicely-flavored apricot liquer/extract.
Weigh your apricots (this is very important!), then transfer them to a very deep, heavy pot (like a Le Creuset or a stock pot). Pour a bit of water into the bottom (about a half-cup) and about a teaspoon of kosher salt. Cover and set over medium-high heat. Stir it frequently, every two minutes or so, keeping it covered in-between. You want the fruit to break down, become soft enough to mash with a spoon, and to release a lot of liquid.
Once it’s very soft, it’s time to add the sugar. How much? We will calculate this based on half the weight of your cut apricots minus the pits. Let’s say you started with 4 lbs. of cut fruit. Use about 2 lbs of sugar. You can adjust this a little based on the sweetness of your fruit. One pound of sugar is about 2 cups by volume. So, 2 lbs. of sugar is about 4 cups. Go ahead and stir the sugar into the apricots and remove the cover.
Let the jam bubble away; stir it often to prevent scorching on the bottom. If you have a thermometer, go for 220 degrees F. Otherwise, let it boil like crazy; if it’s splattering, making a terrible mess, and scalding your flesh, you’re on the right track (um, good time for an apron). When the jam feels very viscous and parts to expose the bottom of the pot when you stir, it’s ready.
Turn off the heat, and add 1-2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and ½-1 teaspoon of the kirsch. Taste your jam and adjust the flavors as you see fit.
Pour into prepared sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes, or simply pour into glass or ceramic vessels, let cool, and refrigerate.
I started with about 3 1/3 lbs of cut, pitted fruit and yielded 3 ½ pints of jam.