Nothing can equal the feeling of immense satisfaction derived from producing a good batch of home-made jam!
Set aside a morning or afternoon, and devote yourself to this age-old, soothing activity. Perhaps have something else relaxing to do while the jam bubbles away, such as reading, writing, even mending, or playing a musical instrument. The creative activity of a simple domestic task is most therapeutic, and afterwards the results can be shared with others. Not to mention the delicious tasting that takes place during the process, for those with a sweet tooth!
- Sterilize the jars by cleaning them thoroughly or putting them through the dishwasher.
- Place the jars and the lids on an oven sheet in a warm oven (70-100˚ C) to dry out and sterilize further, and to keep them hot.
- Clean a large pot; a lid is not required.
- Wash and stone about 20 large apricots, or 30 small ones. I found some delicious large firm apricots, imported from France, at our local outdoor fruit and veg market.
- Break them into halves, and cut them into quarters or eighths, depending on the size of the fruit, and on how chunky you would like your jam to be. Reserve some of the stones.
- Break open about 10 stones, using a hammer and a hard surface such as a chopping board, (or the kitchen back step), and remove the almond-flavoured kernels within. Set aside.
8 cups of halved or quartered apricots
1/3 cup lemon juice
9 cups of white sugar for a sweeter jam, or 8 cups for a slightly more tart flavour.
1.Place all the ingredients into a large pot, over low heat (No. 3 on my hob), and stir to combine them well.2. Bring the mixture to the boil, still over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. No water need be added, the fruit will release a great deal of liquid on its own.
3.Allow to simmer on low heat for 1 ½ – 2 ½ hours, depending on the type of apricots, and the chunky or smoother texture that you desire. Skim off the foam occasionally. Set a timer every 20 mins to check and stir the mixture. Meanwhile, get on with another task or activity.
4. The jam will reach a darker orange-amber colour as the liquid boils off and the jam reaches setting point.
5. To test when it is ready: chill 2 saucers in the freezer and rotate one in the freezer with one for testing the jam. Place a blob of hot jam onto a chilled saucer and place in the frig for a few minutes. Repeat the process every 20 mins until, when pushed with a finger, wrinkles form on the surface. When this occurs, the jam is ready.
6. Remove the pot from heat and fill the jars with a ladle, adding several kernels. Leave a space at the top of each jar for the jam to expand and cool.
7. Wipe the rims and sides of the bottles, and put on the lids while it is still hot to seal them. Wipe the bottles clean of any drips.
8. Label the bottles with the date of production, and your name (optional), and/or a gift message.
9. Optional: place a circle of pretty fabric over the lid, and secure it with a piece of ribbon or string, or a rubber band.
Enjoy the sense of satisfaction derived from a job well done, and the joy of giving a home-made gift to a family member, friend, or – if you are so inclined – to a complete stranger!