Easy Jam: Strawberry Apricot
Every summer seems to become jam season in our house. Not that I don’t make jams during any other season, but that the stone fruits of summer are my absolute favorite. There aren’t too many places to go and buy plum or nectarine jam are there? Quite frankly that’s a shame too, but don’t worry I have the solution… it’s a recipe of course and one that’s so simple that you’ll be wondering why you haven’t done this sooner. The best part of making jam is that you can use overripe fruit that’s on its way out, so you never have any waste. Just wash, dry and cut the fruit and store it in a freezer bag until you have enough for the recipe.
One thing I would like to mention at this point as well, is that I do NOT go though all of the proper canning procedures with my jams. I only ever make enough for a pint or so, this way I know it will get used before it goes bad on me. A jam made this way should still last about 6-8 months in the fridge unopened, and about 2 months after opening. Making a small amount only takes about an hour from start to finish, so I don’t see the point in making 8 gallons of jam to store on my shelves for years to come. You’ll also notice that I use no added pectin. The orange zest has some natural pectin in it; otherwise I simply reduce it down to the consistency that I want, which I also feel concentrates the flavors. Finally, I use quite a bit less sugar than most recipes. Yes, sugar will help with preservation, but by using less you will actually taste the fruit better, and it will not be lacking sweetness.
When I made this jam, I used a 2:1 ratio of apricots to strawberries, and I found that the strawberries still dominated the mild flavor of the apricots, hence why it looks a bit like tomato sauce. So I cut the strawberries in half and added the weight into the apricots to make up for the volume difference. I always use some liquor in my jams. Because I have a problem? No. The jams are never “boozy” since the alcohol gets cooked out, but the liquors can really add some interesting flavors. I almost always use Southern Comfort with apricots or peaches. Even though I didn’t get the exact flavor profile that I was shooting for, once this jam was being spread over bagels and buttermilk biscuits, I can’t say “disappointed” is a word that came to mind.
1 Cup Sugar
1oz Southern Comfort
Juice from Half an Orange
Zest from Half an Orange
Pinch of Salt
First and foremost wash all of the fruit, especially if it’s getting old. Believe it or not even fruit with some white fuzz on it is okay for jams. Just use a paring knife to remove that area and wash it well. Next, cut all of the fruit into pieces and you can leave the skin on the apricots. Besides zesting the orange, this is all of the prep for this jam. Told you this was simple.
Get the most flat-bottomed, wide pot you own and heat it on a medium setting. Once hot, add all of the ingredients, but add the Southern Comfort last to make sure you avoid a flame. Stir everything together.
Once the mixture begins to get a foam on it, which should take about 10 minutes or so, take a potato masher and just give it a few good mashes. This will help break up some of the larger pieces and release some more juice from the fruit.
It should take about another 30 minutes to reduce the mixture to a good consistency for jam. Make sure you stir it every 7-8 minutes. The way I can tell it’s done is to draw a line in the bottom with my wooden spoon, if the line fills back in right away then it needs more time, but if the line holds for five seconds then it’s done. This works well with my pot, so if your pot is taller and less wide, this may not work. Put a small plate in the freezer and when your jam is getting where you think it looks done, take a small amount and drop it on the cold plate. The plate should chill it almost immediately and show you how the jam will be. Test early. You can always cook it more, but you can’t uncook it once it’s searing to the bottom of you pan.
Let it cool until you can handle it without burning yourself. Get a sterile jar and fill it while the jam is still warm. Fill the jar to the brim, close the lid and chill it in the fridge. You should notice that the lid will “seal” itself once it’s cold. If there’s any extra jam after filling, enjoy readily.
To clean the pot, fill it with an inch of water, put a lid on it and bring it to a boil. Let it boil for about 5 minutes. While it’s still hot rinse it with hot water under your faucet. Most of the caramelized jam should come right out.