Sunday is March 1st which means the official start of Autumn. Here in Hobart the first of the leaves are turning and this morning at least. there was certainly a coolness in the air. I have just made what will be our last batch of Apricot Jam – we have loved making this jam over summer and thought I would share with you our recipe for Easy-Peasy Apricot Jam.
Our new home has an enormous apricot tree and everyone kept saying to us “make apricot jam – it is so easy”. So we googled it – so many recipes – everyone quite similar but with their own special ‘twist’. But what shocked us the most was how much sugar there was in every recipe!!
Being a chemist by profession and inquisitive by nature I had to find out why. I had guessed that the sugar acted as a preservative guarding against future microbial growth and in fact it increases it’shelf life to about 12 months. What it also does is develop the flavour and gives jam it’s characteristic “gel” texture.
In fact in England, concoctions can only truely be called jam if the end product contains a minimum of 60% sugar! Most traditional recipes call for equal amounts of sugar and fruit with the total amount of sugar being boosted to around 60-65% by the fruit itself.
So here is our
Easy-Peasy Apricot Jam Recipe
1 kg apricots – halved with stones removed
1kg sugar, warmed
1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of lemon juice
Combine the apricots, water and lemon juice in a large non-reactive pan (stainless steel or enamel). Bring slowly to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until fruit is tender. Add warmed sugar and stir constantly without boiling until all sugar dissolved. Now bring the mixture to a full boil, stirring occasionally, for about another 15 minutes or until set.* Pour into warm sterilised jars and cover immediately.**
*to test if jam is set – spoon a little jam on a chilled saucer, push the jam with your finger – if it wrinkles it is set (cool huh?)
**jars can be sterilised in the oven, dishwasher or microwave.
So easy and so unbelievably good -the girls couldn’t believe how different it was to have picked the fruit and make the jam ourselves and it has been lovely to be able to give jars to friends and family as a thankyou present.
It was very tempting to reduce the amount of sugar but I am assured that this will not produce the characteristic jammy gel texture and that the jam would have to be boiled for longer to set which would darken the colour of the jam and lose flavour.
I tend to think that we only use a small amount on toast or scones and that we view it as a “treat” food. But I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has sucessfully made jam with less sugar – please share!!
Are you a jam-maker? What is your favourite jam?