I realize that description doesn't make it sound that fun, but trust me, it's great! The whole house smells amazing, I blast music, usually Neko Case, sing at the top of my lungs, and totally get into this awesome relaxed groove while I can and can and can. By then end of the day, I'm obviously exhausted, but I have about 30 jars of the most delicious preserves and know that me and my preserves-loving-friends will have something delicious and homemade in the cupboard to last us until next summer (ya know, if we pace ourselves)!
Liana was sweet enough to give me permission to post a few of the recipes from Canning for a New Generation on my blog, but I highly recommend you go out and buy her book to see all the amazing recipes and tips she has to offer!
Apricot and Vanilla-Bean Preserves (Recipe from Canning for a New Generation)- Makes about 5 half-pint jars
(* = notes from Becca at Ladyface Blog!)
- 3 lbs ripe apricots, halved and pitted (no need to peel)
- 1/2 cup rose or white wine, or 3 tbs fresh lemon juice
(*I actually use 3 tbs of lemon juice plus enough wine to equal 1/2 cup!)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
-2 vanilla beans split lenghtwise
(*buy vanilla beans in the bulk spice section of your grocery store! They'll be like, 75 cents each instead of $10 for a jar of two.)
Prepare for water-bath canning: Sterilize the jars and keep them hot in the canning pot, put a small plate in the freezer, and put the flat lids in a heat proof bowl. (See page 21 for details. (*If you're a seasoned canner, you'll be in good shape. If you're new to it, pick up the book so you can read more about the process, which is what's on page 21!))
Cut the apricots into 1/4-inch slices. Put the apricots, wine, (*lemon juice), sugar, and vanilla beans in a wide 6- to 8-quart preserving pan. Bring to a simmer stirring frequently, then continue to cook until the juices are just deep enough to cover the apricots, about 5 minutes. Pour into a colander set over a large bowl and stir the apricots gently to drain off the juice. Return the juice to the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the syrup is reduced by about half, 5 to 10 minutes.
Return the apricots and vanilla beans and any accumulated juice to the pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring frequently, until a small dab of the jam spooned onto the chilled plate and returned to the freezer for a minute becomes somewhat firm (it will not gel), 10-15 minutes. (*This step usually takes 8 minutes for me!) Remove from the heat and stir gently for a few seconds to distribute the fruit in the liquid.
Ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the bowl with the lids. Using a jar lifter, remove the sterilized jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the water from each one back into the pot, and place them upright on a folded towel. Drain the water off the lids.
Remove the vanilla-bean pods and ladle the hot jam into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace at the top. Slide a piece of vanilla-bean pod into each jar so that it's visible from the outside. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid and ring on each jar, adjusting the ring so that it's just finger-tight. Return the jars to the water in the canning pot, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes to process. Remove the jars to a folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours. (*This assumes you do not have cats who will jump on the counter while you're asleep and knock them over. Sheesh.) After 1 hour, check that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of each; if it can be pushed down, it hasn't sealed, and the jar should be refrigerated immediately. Label the sealed jars and store.
Aren't they the prettiest preserves? They're amazing on toast, in your yogurt, or in your oatmeal, and also make a great cake filling, awesome homemade fruit leather, and are perfect for making this apricot and custard tart!
Do you have a favorite way to use preserves?
Til next time!
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