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Friday, July 29, 2011

Apricot Vanilla Jam

         A few weeks ago, I got absolutely giddy over the sight of apricots.Really I did and my reaction even stunned me a little.I was so happy to see apricots at the grocery store I just couldn't keep it together.And this is not the first time this has happened.
Yep it's true and I'm totally ok with admitting it.

   The same giddy-over-apricot happened last year about this time and again I fell for some fresh apricots.
Sucker.
 
   They are a delicate fruit and in this almost oppressive Southern heat I just don't expect to see them much.So that means that they might be shipped in from somewhere else and well thats ok by me.I only want enough to make one round of apricot jam and I will be on my merry way. Thank you.

  Apricot jam is one of my most favorite jam flavors.I love apricot jam and ooohhh the other day I saw a recipe for Apricot Butter. Now slap me silly that sounded amazing! Luscious,sweet,clean flavors of fresh apricots cooked down to make a rich butter and wait for it...and if I can it,I can have have a jar of that goodness in the middle of winter. The thought was almost too much to bear and well I'm sorry to say my dreams took a detour.

   So what had happened was I bought the two pounds of apricots the Apricot Butter recipe called for (hopes building,oh joy!). Saturday morning rolls around and....
I rinsed off the fruit,halved them and took out the pits. Then had a brilliant idea (Well truth be told I've been on a vanilla bean kick. I've put it in two other jams I've made...there are worse things I guess.) So the idea: let's put some vanilla bean in this delish apricot butter and ooh for more flavor cook down the apricots with the vanilla bean,fine fine fine idea. And hey the pretty little vanilla bean black specks all throughout the bright orange jam,now thats gourmet people.
  The smells that came out of this pot were just beautiful and it wasn't just the simple,rich orange color ...I'm telling you just sweet enough,a whiff of vanilla and all apricot. Heaven.

I broke out the food mill,fashioned it with the medium-size texture disc (that sounds somewhat technical,the texture size is well medium. it's not big chunks and not super fine,just in between...medium).

I carefully poured batches of the cooked down apricot mixture into the food mill and went to work workin' down that mixture into apricot/vanilla bean puree.***Here's the fun part,ready for it? Ok here goes: the Apricot Butter recipe calls for 6 cups of apricot puree. SIX WHOLE CUPS! Now I'm no magician and I'm not fussing at the writers of the recipe (in my most trusty canning recipe cookbook) but, there was no way! on this planet that I was going to get 6 whole cups of apricot puree out of 2 pounds of apricots. NOT GONNA,WASN'T GONNA HAPPEN. What did happen was a little canning genius...think Meredith think Meredith...Apricot Vanilla Jam.

Oh thank my lucky stars something came to me.

  I have made enough jam to know a few of the ropes and I knew I had enough puree to make a few jars of a fine apricot vanilla jam. Called off the dogs,shut off the alarms and my blood-pressure came down a few notches,now off to make some jam.

I used the apricot jam recipe  in the same trusty canning recipe cookbook. Measured up some sugar.

  I also squeezed up the juice of an orange. The orange would brighten the apricot flavors,who doesn't need a little bright orange juice in their lives.




        The apricot jam is this trusty canning recipe cookbook was a big hit last year,so hey I broke out the pectin,followed the recipe for the jam substituting the apricot puree for the chopped apricots. I knew the jam might be a little thinner,but just as tasty. It was tasty,so tasty.
     Apricot Vanilla Jam! Ta-da!  I know you're thrilled and probably still a little shocked. Funny thing is I will probably just act just as excited as the first time,the next time I see apricots in the produce section. I love them that much. If you see them,make this jam. And after you taste this jam,you will act giddy all over again.Enjoy!

Apricot Vanilla Jam
adapted from The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
makes 6 half-pints ( 8-ounce jars)
Ingredients:
2 lbs apricots-halved and pitted
1/4c water
half of a vanilla bean
juice of one orange
1 package regular powdered fruit pectin
7 cups granulated sugar
Directions:
1. Prepare your canner,jars and lids.
2. In a large stainless steel saucepan or preserving pan,add the halved apricots and water.On a cutting board carefully split the vanilla bean half down the middle,turn the knife over and with the dull side of the knife scrap out the middle of the vanilla bean. Add the vanilla bean piece and vanilla specks to the apricots. Cook the apricots down over medium-high heat until tender and a little juicy.
3. Add the apricot mixture to either a food mill with medium grade disc or a food processor. THIS MIXTURE IS HOT,BE GENTLE AND WORK IN BATCHES IF YOU WANT. Puree the mixture until you have 3 cups of puree.
5. Add the puree back to the same pot you cooked the apricots in,whisk in the orange juice and pectin until completely dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat,stirring frequently. Add sugar all at once and return to a full boil,stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam if any.
6. Ladle hot jam into prepared jars,leaving a 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rim,center the lids and screw one rings until resistance is met and then increase to finger-tip tight.
7. Place jars in canner,ensuring they are completely covered with water.Bring to a boil,return canner lid and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid,wait for 5 minutes more then remove jars to a cooling rack. Let sit at least 12 hours to cool and seal.

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