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.
1.5 kg apricots, halved and stones removed, chopped
juice 1 lemon
½ cup water
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
2 egg yolks
250g self raising flour
Half to three quarters cup apricot jam
For the topping
3 egg whites
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.