>> Wednesday, February 23, 2011
[EYES] NZ earthquakes headlines :'(
[EARS] impatient fingers tapping
[HEAD] better is one day in Your court than a thousand elsewhere
[HANDS] scrubbing sink
I pondered while simmering a pot of golden apricots recently, whether there have been other women in my family to have ever taken part in this jam making activity.
It doesn't seem likely. Especially when I look back a few generations and I cannot imagine any of the women in their circumstances in life to do such thing (Many of them probably have not heard of such thing as jams before!)
I guess it also depends on how far I want to trace back on my family tree.
But it just hard to imagine that I have ancestors from the Netherlands who happened to live on a fruit farm and preserved their apricots every summer?
Anyways, I digress.
Apricot is one of my favourite fruit for jams, so when I saw a box of ripe apricots on sale I knew straight away that those would be used for me jam making session. I've always read about awesome people making awesome jams and it's one of those things on my 1001 things to do.
Some things I've learnt while researching for my first jam making experiment:
1. You need both pectin and sugar (and HEAPS of it...shudders) to make jams.
2. Pectin is a naturally occurring substance which thickens when heated together with sugar (which prevents the jam from being runny or soupy).
3. Pectin can be found in fruits like apples, plums, oranges and citrus fruits (their peels). However cherries, grapes and strawberries have small amounts of pectin.
4. So if the fruit you are using has very little pectin, you may add some other fruit(s) which are rich in pectin e.g. adding lemon juice/peel and their seeds (tied in muslin cloth to be taken out afterwards) into your your pot or you can purchase commercial pectin packets from the shops.
4. Underripe fruits have more pectin than ripe fruits. Who would've thought.
3. So basically I can't really cut the amount of sugar by too much even if I wanted to. Unless I want apricot soup.
And what I've read so far, it seems like the golden rule is this:
For every cup of the fruit puree that you make, add 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar.
I got to admit that I just couldn't bring myself to add that much sugar. I like my jams on the tart side. Sweet sweet jams just ain't my thing. So, I more than halved the amount of sugar than I know I should, because I tasted the jam after the addition of one cup of sugar, and knew that it was already sweet enough for me.
So yes, my jam is on the slightly runnier side which I don't mind at all since it tastes great on my homemade wholemeal bread.
Adapted from David Lebovitz
- 2 pounds (1kg) fresh apricots
- 1/4 cup (125ml) water
- 6 cups (1kg) sugar (I used ~1 cup)
- 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice + peels
- optional: 1 tablespoon kirsch
1. Cut the apricots in half and extract the pits. If you wish, crack a few open and put a kernel in each jam jar you plan to fill.
2. Place the apricots in a very large stockpot, and add the water. Cover the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until the apricots are tender and cooked through.
3. Put a small plate in the freezer.
4. Add the sugar to the apricots and cook, uncovered, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. As the mixture thickens and reduces, stir frequently to make sure the jam isn’t burning on the bottom.
5. When the jam looks thick and is looks slightly-jelled, turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on the chilled plate. Put back in the freezer for a few minutes, then do the nudge test: If the jam mounds and wrinkles (as shown in the photo), it’s done. If not, continue to cook, then re-test the jam until it reaches that consistency.
(You can use a candy thermometer if you wish. The finished jam will be about 220ºF, 104ºC.)
6. Once done, stir in the lemon juice and kirsch, if using, and ladle the jam into clean jars. Cover tightly and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, refrigerate until ready to use.
Hope your week is going well.
Please keep the Christchurch people in your prayers too...