Apricot is my husband's absolute favorite. So when he asked me to make him apricot preserves - how could I refuse! This is a pretty basic recipe but it's virtually fail-proof and the final result comes out absolutely beautiful - plump little apricot
rounds suspended in thick orange syrup. According to my better half, it's heaven on a spoon.
The proportion of fruit and sugar for this recipe is 1 to 1 - 1 kilo of pitted (this is important!) apricots and 1 kilo of sugar. Also for each kilo of
fruit you will need 1 cup (250 ml) of water and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (fresh squeezed, not the bottled stuff). I had 2.2 kilos (5 pounds) of pitted apricots and it came out to 6.5 pints of preserves.
Wash and pit
the apricots. Using paring knife, slice the fruit open along the natural divide and take out the stone. Don't throw the stones out just yet - we'll get back to them in a bit. Weigh the pitted fruit to determine how much sugar and water you
In a large thick-bottomed pan (copper is best but you can use whatever you have) prepare base syrup - mix sugar and water and heat on medium flame until sugar is completely dissolved. You need to keep an eye on it and stir fairly frequently
so it doesn't burn.
Once the syrup is ready, drop (carefully!) the apricot halves in and stir to make sure they are all coated and covered as much as possible (they will float a bit in the beginning and that's fine) and bring to a boil. Lower
the heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Turn off the heat and let cool completely, preferably overnight. Since it's made inside and there are no bugs or bees around there is no need to cover it, but if you want to you can throw a dish towel
over the pot. Covering it with a lid will cause steam to condensate and drop back into the preserves and we don't want that to happen.
While the apricots are cooling, break about a dozen pits - they are pretty tough so you will need a mallet
or a hammer. We are trying to get to the little nuts inside the pits. These have the smell and taste of bitter almonds and can add wonderful amaretto-like notes to your preserves - if you want. Once you get the nuts (and it's absolutely fine if
you smash them a bit), put them in a small container and set aside.
In a few hours - or the next morning - when your pot and its contents are completely cooled down - turn the heat back on (medium to high) and bring the pot to a boil again, than
reduce the heat to low and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat off and let cool completely again.
The cook/cool method allows the fruit to soak up the syrup and become more stable - if you just cook it all the
way right off the bat it will become jam, not whole-fruit preserve. And that's fine if you want to make jam but we are making the Sunny Apricot this time around.
Third time is when you really cook your preserve down. Once again, bring
it to a boil on medium to high heat, than reduce to low and cook for at least 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. This is when you will add the lemon juice (and the apricot stone nuts if you want). The liquid should reduce significantly - by
about half. There are two ways I check for syrup thickness - the drop method and the streak method. The drop method is just what it sounds like - take a small plate and chill it, then drop a little of the syrup on it and let sit for 5 minutes -
if the drop doesn't spread and remains plump and round, it's ready. Streak is even simpler than that - dip a wooden spatula into the syrup so it's coated, and once it's cook to touch, streak your fingertip or a spoon tip through the coating - if you
see a clear streak in the syrup, you are done.
The last round of cooking is the perfect time to prepare your jars. I use pint-sized Ball mason jars, wide mouth if I have them, but regular work just as well. Sterilize and dry
the jars, lids and bands before decanting the preserves, then process them in boiling water again for 5-10 minutes. Cool upside down. I don’t know about you, but we never have the patience to wait until ‘later’ and one jar is usually
opened right away.
Have fun making it and enjoy!