I’m going to go ahead and assume that everyone loves jam. Spread it on toasted bread alone or with butter, use it in a peanut butter and jam sandwich, bake it into cookie bars or if you’re like me, you can eat tiny spoonfuls of it straight out of the jar to satisfy a craving for something fruity or sweet. If you like jam as much as we do in my house, you’ll quickly learn that the really tasty, non-generic jam is decently expensive. So, in part to combat the cost and in part because I love to cook things, I taught myself how to make homemade jam. It’s pretty easy to make so long as you have fresh fruit and a pot large enough to process the jars full of homemade jammy goodness. And once you learn how to make jam, you’ll never need to buy it again. Strawberry jam is a good starter jam if you’ve never canned before but since the season for fresh, local strawberries has probably passed for just about everyone by now, I’ll share a recipe for a small batch of apricot and amaretto jam. Jam recipes often rely on pectin to set or thicken the jam but this recipe does not call for any pectin.
If you have never canned before, it’s wise to learn about the proper procedures for safe canning first. Even though I think I follow safe canning practices, I’d rather not dole out advice on how to safely can food. So, the Ball Jar website is a good resource but a quick Google search will show lots of other reputable options. To get started, you may need to obtain some canning tools. In addition to a large covered pot and the required canning jars, lids and rings, you’ll probably want a canning utensil set to make your canning life a little easier. The expense of starting to can pays for itself quickly once you get hooked on making enough jam for yourself and all of your family and friends.
Also, I happen to like cooking with liquor but if you’re opposed to amaretto, you could leave it out or substitute a touch of real almond extract for the same flavor. Or you could try the jam with vanilla extract instead. Or if you’re not opposed to liquor but just don’t like amaretto, something citrusy like triple sec might be good in this recipe.
Apricot and Amaretto Jam
– Recipe slightly adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Makes four or five 8-ounce jars
4 cups chopped pitted apricots
4 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons amaretto (optional)
1. Prepare canning pot, jar and lids. (Refer to the Ball Jar Getting Started page for details.)
2. In a large stainless steel pot, mix together apricots, lemon juice, sugar and amaretto. Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir constantly to dissolve the sugar.
3. Boil while stirring often until the mixture thickens (this took me about 15-20 minutes). Remove from heat and test gel. (The gel stage is defined on the Ball Jar website as “the point at which a soft spread becomes a full gel. The gelling point is 220°F (104°C), or 8°F (4°C) above the boiling point of water.” An easy way to test it is to drop a dollop of jam on an ice cold plate. If the jam runs, it has not yet reached the gel stage.)
4. If gel stage has been reached, skim off foam.
5. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding more hot jam. Wipe rim and center lid on jar. Screw jar band down until resistance is met, then tighten it with your fingertips.
6. Place jars in canning pot, making sure that the tops of the jars are all completely covered with water. Cover pot, bring to a boil and process jars for 10 minutes. Start the 10 minute count when the water reaches a rolling boil. Remove canning pot lid after the 10 minutes of boiling and leave jars in water for 5 minutes. Remove jars, cool and store for up to one year. (Again, check the Ball guide for details about cooling and storage.)
|About the contributor:|
|Melissa McKelvey shares her recipes and adverntures on her website, The Boastful Baker. She also writes the Bites and Morsels column here on Indie Fixx, which appears bimonthly on Mondays. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.|