Friday, July 19, 2013

Apricot Preserves

If you follow me on Instagram, you may know that I declared Sunday, July 14th the best day of the year. Why? Because it was apricot preserves day! On Apricot Preserves day, I wake up early, drag myself to the farmers market to buy a 20 lb box of apricots, lug it home on the bus, and then spend all day sweating in the kitchen making preserves. 

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)!
The recipe I use is from what's basically my canning bible, Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff. Her recipes are amazing. I particularly love that they're low sugar recipes that generally rely on the pectin already present in the fruit you're using. This helps the preserves really hold the true flavor of the fruit you're working with!

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!)

Ingredients:
- 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!

-Becca
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23 comments:

  1. Umm... YUM!! Thanks for the recipe and all the visuals. Once the heat dies down a bit, I really want to start canning all my favorite summer fruits. This looks delicious, especially with the touch of vanilla bean.

    My favorites? Peaches, strawberries and the mother of them all, blackberry jam. We should collaborate on preserve label designs. :-)

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    1. Of course! It's one of my favorite recipes. Ooooh I would love to do blackberry jam this year! And I would even more love to work on a preserve label design with you!

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  2. mmmm, this sounds amazing!!

    Melissa
    http://wildflwrchild.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Melissa. It's a pretty dreamy recipe!

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  3. i didn't even know that normal humans could make preserves?
    scratch that, you're obviously a superhuman.

    xo nicole
    writeslikeagirlblog.com

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    1. Hahaha! You're the best! Clearly I'm just passionate about old lady stuff!

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  4. Yum, that looks good, and the book sounds good too. I've never really tried preserves, I think I need to try!

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    1. Thank you! Definitely worth checking out!

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  5. Found your blog through Nicole at Writes Like a Girl, and I have to say.. I think I might become obsessed. My mother-in-law makes her own preserves and jam, and I've always wanted to learn how! You've given me some motivation to give it a go :)

    Oh, and I'm a sucker for any kind of craft.. or embroidery.. yeah, probably just you! ha!

    Kristina
    kristina in retroworter

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    1. Aw, shucks! Thans Kristina! I found yours there, too and love yours, too! You should definitely try out making your own preserves!

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  6. You are seriously so cute and creative! The preserves look so good, and super cute in those jars!

    -Jessica
    www.thischarmingwanderer.com

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  7. I love preserves! I've never made them myself but I would love to one day. I'm sure this apricot one came out delicious, you have some very lucky friends! ♥

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    1. Hi Irela! You should definitely give it a shot! It's fun AND delicious!

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  8. looks really yummy!
    i will have to try.
    keep in touch rachaeldobbins.blogspot.co.uk

    Rachael x

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    1. Thanks, Rachael. It's definitely worth trying out!

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  9. you make me want to just go run to a farmers market and raid all their stalls. this looks deliciooous. i've never tried doing anything quite so kitchen-y, but just thinking of that on toast is making my mouth water. also, thanks for introducing me to neko case. ah-mazing.

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

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    1. Haha, I love it! I'm glad my farmers market enthusiasm comes through! It's not too tough, but it definitely takes a bit of commitment to start canning.

      I'm gad you liked Neko Case. I LOVE her. She's playing at the Paramount in September- I gotta remember to get tickets!

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  10. My mother-in-law cans her own peaches, makes plum and raspberry jam or preserves, and makes her own pickles every year, and I SO want to start doing that! I might have to get that book, because it looks like one I'd love.
    I really want to make some raspberry preserves with the raspberries we picked last weekend. That might be my first foray into canning.
    These look amazing, too. Ah, the vanilla... sounds so good!
    xo
    Kristina

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    1. Super cool! I can peaches, too. I think I'll be doing that in the next couple of weeks! I hope you get a chance to try canning. It's a really great activity and the rewards are obviously great!

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  11. Straight up Ladyface, this is my favorite jam. I will always remember the first time you gave me a jar of this "sunshine in a jar." Thanks for posting the recipe!

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    1. Ivy, you are a gem! Hopefully you can try making it yourself sometimes. If not, you know I'm good for a jar!

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