Sunday, 30 December 2012

Preserving Apricots Three Ways

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 Apricots
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!?

5 comments:

  1. Did you peel the apricots first?

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    1. Hi Annie, I've only just realised my previous reply didn't go through - sorry for that!

      No I don't peel my apricots, that's too fiddly for me and I like my preserves a bit rustic. I halve the apricots and take out the pips. Once cooked, the skins aren't terribly big and they are soft so you won't choke on them!

      I hope you've had fun making your apricot preserves.

      Alex

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  2. hi Alex,
    I have some lovely apricots on my tree and wonder if you can let me know the method for preserving whole (halved) apricots as I didn't see it above? I will definitely be using your jam recipe. thanks Liz from Melbourne

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    1. Hi Liz,

      How wonderful that you have a loaded apricot tree. I'm jealous! It's one of those trees that I intend on planting at my new home but I'll have to wait a few years to see any results!

      In regards to preserving in jars, there is a bit of an art to it. From a fair bit of trail and error, I've got it to a point I'm fairly happy with. Firstly, you need to have the right apricots for the job. They need to be very firm and almost not quite ripe. You also need to pack your jars extremely tightly, really push them in there (I put the cut side down but it's entirely up to you.)

      Next I make a sugar syrup or if I'm feeling really lazy, I simply add two tablespoons of sugar into the jar and pour hot water over until it fills the jar up entirely. I use a number 27 Fowlers jar. If you have smaller jars then adjust the sugar syrup accordingly. You can also make the sugar syrup lighter or thicker depending on your preference. I wouldn't go less than 1 tbs per jar though.

      So, after fruit is in and syrup poured up to the brim you want to put on your lids (hopefully you've already put on your rubber rings before you put syrup in. Somehow I always forget to do this so I end up making a sticky mess!) I use two clips to clamp the lid down so I know I'm going to get a good seal and thus, less potential to spoil.

      Meanwhile, have your fowlers kit filled with water and starting to heat. If you don't have a fowlers kit then you could use a large stock pot and achieve the same thing. Just make sure that the pot is big enough that the water will come up at least 3/4 of the way up the jars.

      Place all your jars in the pot/fowlers kit so that the water is at least 3/4 of the way up the sides but not covering the lid. Get your water boiling and then after a minute or two, turn it off. When it's safe to do so, take your jars out of the water with some metal tongs. Aim for the jars to reach boiling point within 20 minutes and take them out after half an hour or so. The reason for this is that you don't want the apricots to overcook and turn to mush. Once the jars are out of the water, don't be tempted to touch them. Leave them to cool entirely which is how the lids will seal. If you can, leave the clips on for a few weeks. Not essential but again, it usually guarantees that your jars will seal properly.

      I think that's about it Liz. If you have any further questions please feel free to ask. A lot of it is about personal preference so you can muck around with the syrup and cooking time to suit your own taste. Also if some jars don't seal the first time, you can re do them (it just means that the apricots might be a bit more cooked).

      Good luck!

      Alex

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    2. Oh and if you don't have fowlers jars, you can use pasta jars/jam jars that have the "pop seal" lids. Same principal BUT don't put the lids on really tightly whilst they are in the water. Put the lids on loosely and only after you take them out of the water, tighten them (use a tea towel or gloves to protect your hands). You will literally hear a "pop" as the lids seal which will happen as the jars cool down. I almost prefer this way of preserving in jars and use this method when I preserve tomatoes.

      Alex

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