My father in law turned up with two supermarket bags full of apricots yesterday (much to my delight) so today I've been busy making something of them (after I stuffed my face with more than my fair share!)
Only yesterday I had been at the Longford, Tasmania tip shop and picked myself up 9 size 20 Fowlers preserving jars for $5. I gave them all a good scrub in soapy water and then sterilised them in a hot oven for 20 minutes. After the oven was turned off, I left the jars in it whilst I prepared the fruit.
Apricots were all cut in half and pips taken out. The firmer and better looking apricots were set aside to preserve in jars and the rest were cut up and divided into a pot for stewing and another pot for jam.
This is my ancient old Fowlers preserver tub. I purchased it years and years ago at the Evandale Market for a bargain price of $5 including a dozen size 27 jars and lids. Until last year, I'd never actually used it and I must admit I'm still experimenting with how to get the fruit to preserve perfectly without over cooking. However, I'm enjoying the "old art" which allows me to store the fruit for later in the year when apricots are out of season.
I'd also be lost without my "bible", A Year in a Bottle by Sally Wise. This has all the best recipes for preserves, jams and chutneys that any good person needs. Plus she's a Tassie local and that makes me proud.
The jam is a recipe from aforementioned "bible". It's very simple and is as follows:
1Kg Sugar (white)
2 Lemons, Juiced
1/2 Cup Water
1 - Place water, apricots and lemon juice in a pot on the stove and get to boiling point.
2 - Add Sugar and stir while it dissolves.
3 - Cook jam at boiling point for approx 30 minutes or until jam has set. You can test this by putting a plate in the freezer to cool it and when you think jam is ready, put a spoonful on the plate. Wait a second whist the jam cools and then tilt the place. Your jam should only move slightly (not too runny). If you like a firmer jam then you can cook it for longer.
4 - While jam is still hot, pour into your sterilised jars and seal immediately.
Note: I don't leave the jam after putting in the sugar, I like to stir it fairly constantly as apricot jam is very easy to burn and stirring will avoid this.
I got 4 really good sized jars of jam from 1 kilo of apricots.
And as usual, I prettied the jars up with a bit of brown paper and a simple embellishment of ribbon. That's my favourite part. Uh, actually correction, it's my second favourite part as the first is eating it on fresh bread. Yum!
The remaining few kilos of apricots I stewed with some water and sugar (1/2 cup water for every kilo of apricots and sugar to taste). I only ever cook/stew the fruit until it is soft and then put it into clean containers and straight in the freezer. The fruit is then able to be used down the track for pies, on your breakfast, in muffins etc.
So there you have it, preserving apricots three ways. At this rate, my freezer and pantry is going to be very full after this season. I've already been picking cherries and raspberries and it's not even peak fruit/veg season. Maybe I'll have to buy a bigger freezer this year!?