I love making fruit preserves and jams so I always buy fruit when they are in season and cheap. This way we save money, eat healthier, with no additives or chemicals… and with much, much better taste!
Why haven’t I ever posted a recipe for apricot jam before? I really don’t know but I definitely know that I have made some during the past years of blogging. Α few years ago, at some point, some of my files with recipes and pictures were deleted by mistake and I guess that I thought I had posted it and so it was forgotten.
The classic recipe I used to make is about the same and was scented with fragrant geranium leaves and lemon.
I love the sweet aroma of the fragrant geranium leaves and as long as I have some, I will keep adding it, as it adds the most amazing aroma to jams and spoon sweets. However, if you don’t have any you can add vanilla or any other flavour you like.
Lemon is necessary in jams and syrups. Apart from the fact that I love its flavour, it is in any case necessary as apart from its flavour, it also acts as a preservative and helps the pectin but also prevents crystallization of sugar. Some people add glucose in jams and spoon sweets (preserves) but I have never added it and never will, as it’s not necessary. Ginger is my latest love and addition in jams as it adds that lovely, little zing to the flavour.
While I was making the jam this year, I remembered that I had some leftover ginger from another recipe in the refrigerator. This is not something new because I have already used ginger before in other jams and we loved it. There are many varieties of apricots so chose the variety you like best, which should be ripe and sweet. Some people recommend using slightly under-ripe fruit because it has more pectin in it, which means an easier set. Don’t listen to them. Depending on the pectin content of each type of fruit at the end of the cooking time mentioned, the jam may or may not jell. Also, unripe fruit do not have the depth of flavour a really good jam needs.
The ratio of fruit to sugar is 1:1 but this always depends on the sweetness of the fruit used so this should be adjusted according to the fruit and your personal taste. Start with this ratio and if you find it too sweet for your taste, next time you make it reduce the amount of sugar. The less sugar you can use (within reason), the more the flavour of your fruit will be the starring character in your jam. In some jams it is necessary to add water in order to make the syrup but in juicy fruit it is not recommended as it will need more time to set. The less time the fruit is on the stove, the fresher its final flavour will taste. Put the fruit and sugar in a pot, in layers and in the morning the juices of the fruit are exuded. Macerating them overnight in sugar will draw out their liquid and you won’t need to add any water at all. Some juicy fruit need only a couple of hours to exude their juices.
Make sure the sugar is fully dissolved into the liquid around your cooked fruit before bringing the pot to a rapid boil. Stir the fruit continuously while the sugar is dissolving and then once it has dissolved, you will only need to stir the jam occasionally. Once they are heated, the fruit turns golden, fruity and luscious.
Most jams foam while boiling and may overflow, so you should be nearby, mixing it regularly. What I did was when it was about to overflow, I pulled the pot away from the heat and waited a couple of minutes until the foam settled and then put it back on the heat again. As it boils you will see some foam emerging on the top. That should not worry you because that’s just a lot of air trapped in the bubbles from the boiling but it’s best to remove it as the jam looks better without it. Otherwise it is harmless. You may avoid foaming by adding 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine to the mix but this will help early spoilage of the jam, so it is better to skim it. After some time, it will stop foaming and overflowing. At the end most of the foam will dissolve and with a slotted ladle remove any foam which is still visible. This procedure will take about half an hour.
If the jam has been cooking for over 40 minutes and you don’t see a setting point reached, take it off the heat anyway and assume there’s not enough pectin in the fruit to set the jam. You should have in mind that the jam will set after it cools, so if it is runny don’t hurry to add pectin. You should leave it to cool completely and if it is still runny, you can either add more sugar and lemon juice and start boiling it again or you can add some pectin which you can buy in all supermarkets.
In my case, the jam did not set after the 30 minutes, so I waited until it cooled and removed 3 jars of apricot sauce, as I wanted to use it in other recipes (see note below). It can still be used as jam but it is a little bit runny. In the remaining I added 25 grams gelfix and followed the instructions on the package.
There are several methods that you can test to see if the mixture has set:
You can either do this by putting a small plate in the refrigerator and then putting a teaspoon of jam on the plate to check its consistency. Push the jam and if it takes a few seconds to come back, then it has set. If it is runny then boil again and repeat.
The other method of course, is to use a candy thermometer, if you have one. It needs to reach up to 105o C / 220o F.
I don’t follow either method. I follow the traditional method my mother used. At the end of skimming, I put some of the boiling jam in the wooden spoon and let it run back into the pan. If all the jam falls away from the spoon it is not ready yet. You must keep checking this regularly and the drops will be falling slower and slower and when a last drop does not drop down but rests on the spoon for a few seconds, this means that it has set.
Use a ladle to fill jars to1 cm below rims, wipe jars clean of any spills and seal firmly while jam is hot. Let the jam cool and store it in a cool pantry or in the fridge if opened for a long time.
I made 9 jars and we have already eaten half of it. I love it in the morning for breakfast on toasted bread and butter but whenever I need to satisfy my cravings for something sweet, I put some cream cheese on a rusk and jam on top and it’s just like eating dessert!
Well, I did use some to make the desserts you can see at the end of the post. I started this post as a simple recipe and it turned out to be a tutorial on how to make jams. I am sure that even if you have never made jams before this will help you start.
Fancy jars are good for food styling and photography but don’t forget that we should all recycle our glass jars. It’s beneficial to our pocket but also to the environment!
Lemon & Ginger Apricot Jam, recipe by Ivy
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Makes: about 3 1/2 kilos jam, or 9 jars x 400 grams each (net weight)
- 2 kilos apricots (net without the stones)
- 2 kilos sugar
- 2 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 lemon peel
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 4 – 5 fragrant geranium leaves
- 1 sachet (25 grams) gelfix
- Begin by sterilizing your jars.
- Wash and cut the apricots in half and remove the pits.
- Place apricots and sugar in a large pot, in layers and leave it overnight. In the morning mix the apricots with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved. Add 1/2 the lemon juice, peel, fragrant geranium leaves and grated ginger and bring to a boil. When it starts foaming, lower heat and cook for about 30 – 35 minutes, skimming the foam.
- Add the remaining lemon juice and remove from the heat.
- Ifyou like remove lemon peel and geranium leaves. I prefer to leave them as they add flavour.
- Set aside to cool. Place the preserves in sterilized jars.
You can preserve jams using a water-bath method. When canned properly, preserves can be stored in a cool place for a year or more.
Note: If it does not set you can use it as a sauce on top of Greek yoghurt, crepes, pancakes, ice creams or in other desserts. If you wish to add pectin you must follow the instructions on the package.
In my case I added 1 sachet (25 grams) pectin and kept mixing it until boiling point. I then turned off the heat and let it cool before putting it in the jars.
Other relevant posts:
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,