Apricot Preserves, and some time to let your mind wander

To make apricot preserves, the method and ingredients are very simple: sugar, water, lemon juice, and apricots that get pitted just by splitting them open with your hands. But the process does require a heaping portion of…you. An hour’s worth of your hand stirring to prevent scorching and your patience waiting for the fruit and sugar to cook properly. Take this as an opportunity to chew on some daydreams you’ve been wanting to have. A mind needs time to wander, don’t you think? Or you can hoist yourself up on the counter and sit there listening to your mother while she stirs the pot, like I did.

Maureen: What kinds of trees did you have in your yard growing up in Ohio?

Mom: We had a mulberry tree, we had a quince tree, we had an apple tree—a huge apple tree. We had a cherry tree, and of course we had an apricot tree. My grandparents, who had lived next door, had a pear tree in their yard. I never knew them because they died before I was born. But my sisters said that when they went over to her house, my grandmother told them to stand right there in the doorway and not to go any farther. She had nice oriental rugs and a shiny floor, I guess.

Not much of a grandmother.

No. So we had a lot of fruit and we ate all of our own fruit. My mother canned everything she could get her hands on, and she just never sat down. She used to core and freeze the coosa. She made a lot of fataya and put them in the freezer so she could pull them out for company. She used to use purchased biscuit dough, roll them out, and put the filling in. They were very flaky and good. That was later on; when she was younger she did everything from scratch. I remember her beating and beating and beating an angel food cake to fluff the egg whites. All by hand. I’d stand there and she’d say, “Put the sugar in. Now put more sugar in. Now put more sugar in.” She had a big balloon whisk.

Funny, that’s exactly how we learned to do it in cooking school. Do you want to sit down now?

Oh, I don’t sit too much. My mom always put paraffin on top of the jam to seal it. We’re not doing that. We don’t need to seal anything. Just simple; make it and refrigerate it and eat it. You can also freeze it, and we should make more so we can have some during the winter. I love apricot jam the best. I always have strawberry and those others, but they pale. They just pale in comparison.

These apricots are going nicely honey. It’s doing it, it’s getting thick and it’s still chunky. That’s what it’s all about, getting a nice big piece of the fruit on your toast so you can really taste it.

Apricot Preserves

The sweet-tart flavor of these preserves goes outrageously well with something creamy, like labne (or cream cheese, or ricotta, or…you get the picture) on toast made from really good bread. I bought an Italian loaf from the excellent Crooked Tree Bread Works in Petoskey.

2 lbs. apricots
1 1/3 cups sugar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pit the apricots by splitting them between your thumbs and removing the pit. Not many fruits yield so easily or perfectly to the touch, so enjoy.

In a heavy medium saucepan, add the sugar and water and stir just to combine. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has melted and the mixture begins to simmer.

Immediately add half of the apricots and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until the apricots are very soft and falling apart, about ½ hour. Scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir to prevent scorching.

Add the rest of the apricots and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over low heat again, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens and the apricots have softened but some pieces still remain, another ½ hour.

Taste. Depending on how tart the preserves are, and how tart you like it, add 1 tablespoon or more of lemon juice.

Let the mixture cool for 15 minutes, then pour into jars. Cover and refrigerate. These preserves should be kept refrigerated rather than on the pantry shelf.

A PDF of this recipe can be found here.

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15 Responses to Apricot Preserves, and some time to let your mind wander

  1. Rosemary Abowd Schwendler says:

    Maureen!
    I remember making these preserves with
    Grandma one summer. Seems like I pitted a lot
    more than 2 lbs of apricots. I recall a bottomless
    bushel basket! Absolutely the best!
    Love to you and Aunt Maryalice!
    Rosemary

    • Maureen Abood says:

      Wonderful memory Rosemary!! Thanks for sharing. I bet Grandma’s were so delicious, right from her own tree. xo–

  2. Patti Markho says:

    I love the interview with Mama Abood. She sounds as sweet as those apricots!

  3. Geralyn Lasher says:

    Okay–it is ridiculous how good this tastes!!! Mom and I just made it and she is thrilled with it!

  4. Karine Keldany says:

    Yum, looks amazing and really delicious. Do you know by any chance how to make “Amar El Din”. Arabic dried apricots rolls? Or the apricots pudding that is eaten cold? I moved for a year from Montreal (Canada) to the Dominican Republic and would love to make some. I am carving Lebanese food like crazy. :)
    Thanks.

    • Maureen Abood says:

      I love “Amardin” and have not made it, but looked into the method last summer. Maybe we’ll try it next year when the apricots are back–soooo delicous. I often buy amardin and I bet homemade would be excellent.

  5. Karine Keldany says:

    Maureen, if you sterilize the pots can the preserves be kept at room temperature?

    • Maureen Abood says:

      Yes, sterilize the jars and they will have shelf life. Just be sure there is a seal on the lid (indicated by a popping sound when you open the jar).

  6. Elaine Archer says:

    Maureen, I used your recipe when given too many apricots to eat from the tree of the “other grandma” of my grandsons. Absolutely delicious!! In fact, I think I’ll go make toast to put some on right now.

  7. Audrey says:

    In South Africa we usually crack a few of the pips, blanch the nuts to remove the skin and add them at the end. Adds a lovely almonds flavour.

  8. Judy says:

    I used to make apricot jam. 3 kilo apricots 3 kilo sugar? Not sure if that’s rights and 3 lemons for it to set. Actually I made jam out of every fruit except apples and pairs. I’d bought a new fridge but kept the old one and it was full of jams the wholeyyear round. I made grape jam that over set and when my parents came from England I made my dad finish it before he could try anything else. Poor daddy. Sorry. I must’ve bored you.

    • Maureen Abood says:

      Judy I love your story! I’m sure yours is delicious; you use a little more sugar than I do, and more lemon too.

 

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