Jam making can seem intimidating but it is straightforward and rewarding. Summer, with the amount and range of fruit on offer is the perfect time to get started on jamming. This apricot and almond jam is one of the easiest and most foolproof jams requiring no special equipment or skill.
I recently went out to dinner with a good friend of mine and her colleagues. In between talk about food and men, they would occasionally lapse into work place talk and conversation would inevitably fall on a rather notorious colleague. Reams could be written about her - for someone that has a responsible job she is on perhaps the wrong side of eccentric and the small group assembled talked about how one of them had accidentally offended her. Something rather easy to do, I gathered.
"Maybe she'll stick a picture of me in her freezer!" she said and they all laughed. She explained that when this colleague hated someone, she actually placed a photograph of that person into her freezer. I guess it was her version of a voodoo doll or her way of mentally putting them on ice or in the deep freeze. We all wondered how many frozen souls were in her freezer or indeed what it would be like opening that freezer door to see a whole bunch of photos in there!
My freezer is much less exciting although when I was making this jam you would have seen a plate in there. The plate is of course part of the jam making process. I had bought just over a kilo of apricots. They looked like beautiful specimens, all bursting sunshine orange with the faintest blush of freckles. But when I tried one, they weren't nearly as sweet as I wanted so I decided to turn these into a jam. An almond and apricot jam to be precise.
Jam making is common in our kitchen in summer with all of this lovely fruit around. I prefer my jams not too sweet and a little runny so that they spread easily. I don't tend to add powdered pectin, just natural pectin from lemon zest and seeds and if you want a lovely luscious apricot jam then give this recipe a try.
It's all done in under 30 minutes. You cut up the fruit, simmer it with sugar, almonds, water, cinnamon and the lemon zest and seeds in a muslin pouch. The plate comes out of the freezer when it comes to testing whether the jam is ready. You add a little hot jam onto the cold plate and if you can make a line with a spoon and if it holds, then the jam is ready. You can add more sugar if you like it sweeter or pectin if you prefer a more solid jam but that's the beauty of making your own-to make it to your taste!
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever used a voodoo doll or a technique like hers? And what interesting things do you have in your freezer at the moment? Is there anyone you would like to put in the deep freeze?
Apricot and Almond Jam
An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella
Preparation time: 5-8 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Makes about 3.5 cups
- 1 kg/2.2 lbs. fresh apricots (not overly ripe)
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cinammon stick
- 1 lemon
The seeds and zest in the muslin
Step 1 - Place a small ceramic plate in the freezer (this is to test as to whether the jam is ready). Wash and halve the apricots and remove the seeds. Cut into small pieces and place in a cast iron or thick bottomed large pan along with the sugar, almonds, water and cinnamon stick. Peel the lemon and place the peel and the seeds in a small muslin pouch and tie with kitchen string. Add the juice to the apricot mix.
Step 2 - Simmer on a medium high heat stirring the jam occasionally. Mine took about 20 minutes to reach the point when it was ready. You may be able to tell when the consistency of the liquid turns thicker and glossy. Take the plate out of the freezer and spoon some of the liquid onto it. Run the handle of a spoon through the middle. If the gap holds and the jam doesn't ooze back together then your jam is ready.
Step 3 - Meanwhile, while the apricots are simmering, place a clean jar and lid in a 180C/350F oven and heat for 10 minutes. Make sure the lid doesn't have any plastic or rubber. Pour the hot jam in the hot jars (making sure that there isn't any jam on the rim before closing). While wearing oven gloves, close the jar tightly and place upside down for 10 minutes. Turn right side up and you should have a seal and it can be stored in the pantry.