Apricot jam hint

I’ve been making apricot jam as I’ve been fortunate enough to get hold of 50kg of the wonderful Moor Parks.  I love these apricots – they are so tasty and make excellent jam and chutney, are good for eating and bottle really well.  I found a grower in the Coal River Valley this week who still grows them commercially, which is wonderful news.

Apricot jam can present the habit of catching and even burning as it cooks which is very annoying indeed.  This afternoon I was making a batch and sure enough it started to catch and burn, twice in fact, despite almost constant stirring.  After the second pouring off into another pot I decided to try a trick that an elderly lady passed on to me.  This involves merely throwing a few stainless steel forks into the jam as it cooks.

I was desperate enough to give this a try, albeit with little confidence that it would work.  However, much to my amazement it did.  I rarely had to stir the jam after that and still it didn’t catch or burn.  My elderly friend had told me that in generations past, a handful of two shilling coins was used, but the forks do the same thing.

I’ll be forever grateful for the tip as it has revolutionised and de-stressed apricot jam making in our house.

By the way, add a couple of teaspoonsful of apricot jam to a curry – it makes it delicious.  I love it used a s a substitute for raspberry jam in raspberry shortbread.  It can be used to flavour ice cream as well.

Apricot jam can end to discolour when stored, though the flavour will still be fine.  If you want to keep the colour and bright as the day it was made, store the jam in the freezer.  The jam never freezes due to its high sugar content.

Anyway, here is the recipe for Apricot Jam – so simple to make.  The recipe for the shortbread follows.

Apricot Jam

1.5 kg apricots, halved and stones removed, chopped

juice 1  lemon

½ cup water

1.5kg  sugar

Place apricots, lemon juice and water and cook over medium heat until apricots are tender, stirring often.

Add sugar and bring to the boil, then toss in 4 stainless steel forks.  Cook over medium heat, stirring very frequently for 20 to 25 minutes.  To test whether the jam will set, place a little on a cold (refrigerated) saucer for a few minutes.  If this sample sets, your jam is ready.  If not, boil for 5 minutes more.

Pour into warm, sterilised jars and seal immediately.  Store in a cool, dry, dark place and refrigerate after opening.

Refrigerate after opening.

Apricot Shortbread Slice

For the base

125g butter

125g sugar

2 egg yolks

250g self raising flour

Half to three quarters cup apricot jam

For the topping

3 egg whites

125g sugar

100g desiccated coconut

Grease a large Swiss Roll tin 25cm x 30cm.  Heat oven to 150 degrees C (fan forced – 20 degrees more if not)

Cream the butter and sugar with a whisk or wooden spoon, then whisk in the egg yolks.  Fold in the flour with a metal spoon (add a little milk if it is too dry).  Press out evenly over the base.  Spread with the jam.

To make the topping beat the eggs until soft peaks form, then beat in the sugar until soft peaks form again,  Fold in the coconut with a metal spoon.  Spread evenly over the jam.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until topping is golden and set.  Allow to cool and cut into squares to serve.

22 thoughts on “Apricot jam hint

  1. Sue says:

    Hi Sally

    I too am an avid fan of Moorepark apricots and make some jam this time every year. I’ve found a formula which works to produce a jam with a good set but which isn’t too sweet (for those without a really sweet tooth or are trying to reduce the amount of sugar they consume). I use 72% of raw sugar as a ratio of the total fruit. In other words, if I use 1kg of apricots (weighed whole) then I would use 720g of raw sugar. In making any jam, I’ve always found using the same amount of sugar as the fruit results in a jam which is too sweet for my taste.
    I had the same problem as you with two batches of the apricot jam catching at the bottom (I must admit I was a little distracted for a few minutes and had stopped stirring as frequently) and had to dispense what I could save into another pan to continue the cooking process. However, next year I will try adding the stainless steel forks – sounds like a very simple solution. Many thanks and best wishes.

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    • Sally Wise says:

      Hi Sue – this trick with the forks is amazing. I’ve found that the jam takes less time to set as well – an added bonus. I tried it with my greengage jam last week and it worked for that also. I tend to get distracted when I’m making jam so the forks solution is great for jams that are likely to stick or burn suddenly.

      Thanks for the jam/sugar tip also.

      Regards
      Sally

      Like

  2. Sue says:

    Hi Sally

    I too am an avid fan of Moorepark apricots and make some jam this time every year. I’ve found a formula which works to produce a jam with a good set but which isn’t too sweet (for those without a really sweet tooth or are trying to reduce the amount of sugar they consume). I use 72% of raw sugar as a ratio of the total fruit. In other words, if I use 1kg of apricots (weighed whole) then I would use 720g of raw sugar. In making any jam, I’ve always found using the same amount of sugar as the fruit results in a jam which is too sweet for my taste.
    I had the same problem as you with two batches of the apricot jam catching at the bottom (I must admit I was a little distracted for a few minutes and had stopped stirring as frequently) and had to dispense what I could save into another pan to continue the cooking process. However, next year I will try adding the stainless steel forks – sounds like a very simple solution. Many thanks and best wishes.

    Like

    • Sally Wise says:

      Hi Sue – this trick with the forks is amazing. I’ve found that the jam takes less time to set as well – an added bonus. I tried it with my greengage jam last week and it worked for that also. I tend to get distracted when I’m making jam so the forks solution is great for jams that are likely to stick or burn suddenly.

      Thanks for the jam/sugar tip also.

      Regards
      Sally

      Like

  3. Claire says:

    Sally, are you able to reveal the details of the apricot grower? We have two Moorpark trees but I suspect the kids will polish off our crop. Apricot is our absolute favourite jam and I’d like to make up a lot of it this year and bottle some as well.

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  4. roy says:

    Never had my apricot jam catching or burning. However, after several years of success, one of my last year’s batches turned black in the jar and tasted bitter. I dumped it. A second batch made about a week later kept its colour. The method I used was identical in both cases. My ingredients are simply: apricots, caster sugar, and lemon juice as the setting agent. This has been my mother’s recipe since the 1930s. My sister reported the same blackening problem with last year’s marmalade. Any suggestions?

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    • Sally Wise says:

      hi Roy – a really good way to get preserves to keep a good colour is by putting the jars of jam in the freezer, truly. The jam never actually freezes because of the sugar content, but it does keep its lovely fresh colour and flavour. Same can be done with marmalade. It’s a good trick that really works. A few weeks ago I found in the freezer a jar of apricot jam that looked as good as the day it was made (2005) – didn’t eat it but it was probably fine to do so.

      Regards
      Sally

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  5. Marion Jackson says:

    Hi Sally, I found your website after a disastrous result of making apricot jam.
    I tried your 4 fork trick in a new batch of jam and it worked an absolute treat, but I now find that the jam is to runny.
    I thought it was ready when tested.
    Can you tell me if it is possible to overcook jam please as I am always worried about over cooking my jams and invariably under cook them.
    Marion

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    • Sally Wise says:

      Yes, it is possible to overcook them and then the sugar converts to glucose so you end up with like a sticky toffee like effect.

      I find the best way to judge is to wait until the mixture, on medium to medium-high oil, starts to looks like boiling mud (large bubbles).

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      • Marion Jackson says:

        Thank you Sally.
        I will reboil the jam, and add a little more lemon juice, in the hope of getting it right the second time!
        I might try Sues recipe with raw sugar next time I make jam.

        Like

  6. Julie says:

    Hi Sally
    Do you take the skin off the fruit before it is cooked.
    I am wanting to do jam for my local show i have seen my mum make jam and i cannot remember if she peeled the fruit and i would like to make some peach jam as well

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    • Sally Wise says:

      Hi Julie – yes, for the jam, we took the calyx’s from them and soaked then cooked them separately to extract the pectin. Made lovely jam. However, I really loved the syrup – the flavour is exquisite. Delicious just with iced water. I also made a soft set jelly. I don’t want it to be firm set, as it restricts too much what you can use it for. Last might for instance, I made rosella ice cream. Oh my goodness, that was really something. It matched perfectly to gooseberry pie. The best of this soft jelly and the syrup was that I didn’t need to remove the calyxes before cooking.

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  7. Emmy says:

    Not only did this 4 forks method work but there was literally NO HINT of it catching! YES!
    I hate making jam in summer, but have a glut of apricots each year. I break them in half (to check for any worms or earwigs- luckily few and far between) then freeze the entire halves until winter. Cut and use like fresh ones to make jam.

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  8. Stan Sheppard says:

    The forks definitely work even with plum worstershire sauce making. I often put in forks just in case.
    Can’t wait to get Moorpark apricots to preserve and to make jam with this year.

    Like

  9. Enviromelza says:

    Great tip! I’ve just started making jam and was devastated when my apricot jam did exactly what you said, caught and burned! Will try this next time 🙂

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  10. 1absurdcurd says:

    I can’t think where I might be going wrong coz the fork thing ain’t worked for me.

    I burnt two lots before I found this article and now have burnt another two batches. The second batch I did a lot slower before turning up heat to get a rolling boil and after 5 mins I can see the colour changing and the smell start to get tainted with caramel.

    Never had this with any other jam. What could be going wrong?

    Like

    • sallywiseau says:

      What a shame it hasn’t worked for you. It might be your pot that you are cooking it in. Is it heavy based I wonder? Maybe the heat is a bit high, though I note that you said you cooked one batch slower.

      Are you cooking it on a gas hotplate? Sometimes they can be a bit brutal I’ve found. A simmer mat (generally available from kitchenwares stores) will help if so.

      An occasional variety of apricot will be more inclined to catch, but even then, with the forks and so long as it’s stirred fairly regularly, it should be fine.

      Incidentally, in my past pre-fork days, when a batch of apricot jam caught, I would use it up in curries and gravies, just a teaspoonful here and there, delicious.

      Just thought of something else – are you making small-ish batches? No more than 1.5kg fruit? If more than this is in the jam pan or pot, the jam will often catch due to the weight of mixture on the base.

      Let me know about any of the above that might apply.

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      • 1absurdcurd says:

        Thanks and I think it was the gas being a little hotter than I was used to on my old electric hob. I cooked a (fifth) batch, yes always using 1.5kg in a judge jam pan, and just kept the gas on the bare minimum and stirred until it just thickened of its own accord – took an hour to get there.

        Patience is the moral of my story.

        Like

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