Your own home made jam is an achievement to be proud of and a delicious way to enjoy summer in winter. There is nothing like your own jam on hot buttered toast on a grey rainy morning in October to make you glad you made the effort.
Apricot jam made yourself tastes like sunshine in a jar. It’s nothing like commercial jams – even the good brands and artisan preserves – and you only need 3 ingredients.
1kg apricots, stoned, preferably a bit under-ripe
15ml lemon juice
What you do
Cut apricots in half. Put in a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pan in layers with the sugar. Leave for a few hours to overnight.
When you are ready to make your jam, make sure you will not be disturbed and don’t leave the room. Sugar is not something you want to boil over!
Simmer the apricots
Add 15ml lemon juice to the pan. Heat gently on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Stir occasionally to test if the sugar has melted: if it hasn’t, you’ll be able to feel grittiness on the bottom of the wooden spoon.
The low heat is to stop the sugar burning, so don’t be tempted to put it higher. (Add your sugar thermometer to the pan now so it doesn’t suddenly get put in hot sugar).
When the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat to medium and put the kettle on.
Sterilise your jars
You need to sterilise your jars while the jam is simmering. You can do this by putting them in a low oven (use oven gloves to take them out!) or the ‘make do’ way (shown above ) is pouring boiling water in them, both to partially sterilise the jar and to warm it up so the glass doesn’t break when you pour the jam in.
Boiling jam is a good steriliser so as long as you’re going to eat your jam within 6 months and store it in a cool, dark place, you’ll be fine. If you want to keep it for longer, you will need to oven sterilise jars and lids. If you completely forget, keep your jam in the fridge and use within a few weeks.
Bring to set point
Keep an eye on your pan of jam. When it comes to a rolling boil, turn the heat down a bit and watch. The volume of boiling jam can rise suddenly so don’t leave it!
A roiling boil is quite distinctive. You’ll know you’ve got there when the top of your jam seems to come alive and become a constantly moving dynamic boil, a bit like a jacuzzi. You can see what a roiling boil looks like in the photo, apologies for the steam!
When your jam gets to 105C, that’s the set point. The set point is when the pectin in the fruit has activated, so your jam will become thick and luscious. It’s not when Murray loses Wimbledon. Sob.
Take the pan off the heat and put your thermometer into water (easy clean up).
Put the kettle on to boil.
Pouring your jam into jars
Leave your jam to settle for 10 minutes so when you pour it you don’t get all liquid jam at first.
Put your jars on a baking tray or sink drainer. Pour out the water if you used it and take your jars out the oven if you did it that way. Get your oven gloves at the ready and lots of clean spoons.
I haven’t mentioned this before, but you are wearing clothes for this yes? Naked jam-making is a bad look if burns aren’t your bag. Jam can splash.
CAREFULLY pour your jam into jars. This recipe makes 3 pound jars of jam. You can use whatever size jars you like and sterilise more than you think you’ll need.
Wipe drips off the jar necks with a damp clean cloth, screw lids on while still hot, and leave to cool. When your jam is cool enough, you can rinse any jam off that ran down the outside of the jar.
Now isn’t this a joy to behold? Summer in a jar. All made by your fair hand.
Damn, you’re good.
Perfect to show off to your date, or mum.
Eating your own sunshine apricot jam on hot buttered toast is what it’s all about. Perfect with a Sunday morning Buck’s Fizz and a cup of tea.
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