Recipe: Apricot-Vanilla Bean Jam
The simple art of small-batch jams is something to celebrate and share. It’s like saying, “Hey, I have all this delicious, ripe fruit that I am going to whip up, and you — lucky recipient — are so special to me that I am going to share all this goodness and love with you.” When words alone can’t send the message strong enough, say it with jam!
Flecked with real vanilla bean, this brilliantly hued apricot jam is summertime in a jar — and it makes the most beautiful edible gift.
I made this jam with fruit straight from the farmers market. The stalls were overflowing with jewel-hued stone fruit and I purchased more than a few pounds’ worth. Apricots, peaches, plums, and the like seem to have a fairly short season up here in Vancouver, so I purposely bought more than I could consume with the intension of cooking half of them into jams to enjoy later. Whether you have an abundance of fruit from the market, a local orchard, or your own backyard, one great way to use it all up and extend the taste of the season is to make jam.
Things like jam are better made in batches, and if I am going to go stand over a hot stove in the summer, I know it would be in my best interest to make more than a single serving. While this recipe is still for a small batch of jam, it definitely yields plenty enough to share.
To step it up a notch and deem this jam “gift-worthy,” I added real vanilla bean. The vanilla rounds out the tartness from the apricot and adds depth to the flavor without additional sweetness.
Make It! Small-Batch Apricot Jam
This small-batch recipe does not require any additional or commercial pectin. Instead, I use the natural pectin in lemon to help thicken the jam. The acidity in the lemon helps to balance the sweetness of the apricots, too. And since I knew I would be gifting a majority of it in smaller portions and devouring the rest, I did not bother canning it — but here’s how to do that if you want to.
Whenever I have a fresh jar of jam on hand, I am never at a loss for how to use it before it goes bad. I stir it into my morning yogurt; eat it with a soft, creamy cheese; and of course, spread it on biscuits!
Gift It! Jam + Biscuits
I like to send my edible gifts home in a jar worthy of keeping and reusing once the contents have long been enjoyed. A handwritten label adds a personal touch, too.
Makesabout 4 cups
- 2 pounds
- 1/4 cup
Small wedge fresh lemon
- 2 1/2 cups
- 1 to 2
Cut the apricots in half and remove the pits. Place apricot halves and water in a large non-reactive pot. Squeeze the juice from the lemon wedge into the pot, then add the wedge itself. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the juices begin to boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the apricots are soft and tender, 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the sugar. Split the vanilla beans down their length, scrape out the seeds, then add both the seeds and the pods to the pot. Increase the heat back up to high and bring to a rolling boil. Clip on a candy thermometer and continue to cook, while stirring, until the jam thickens and reaches about 220°F. If you don't have a thermometer, to check for doneness, place a small plate in the freezer when you start the recipe. As the jam nears completion, place a small amount on the plate and return the freezer. If the jam wrinkles as you nudge it, it is done.
Carefully remove the vanilla bean pods and lemon wedge. Ladle the jam into clean 4-ounce, half-pint, or pint-sized glass jars. Cool, seal, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or frozen up to 3 months.
Taste your fruit first to check for ripeness and sweetness. Additional sugar may be required.
Peeling apricots: This recipes keeps the skin on the apricot before cooking. You can remove the skins before cooking if you like.