Russian Friday – Apricot Jam

Growing season in Russia is really short, so when it starts, we get hmm.. enthusiastic about not just consuming as many greens as possible, but also about preserving everything that is extra! I’ve been living in California for years now.  Fresh produce seem never ending here. Yet my natural instincts kick in every time I see those fruits and berries.  I get overly excited with a need to preserve…

This is my family jam-making technique.  Even though apricots were almost impossible to find where I grew up, believe it or not, we sacrifice a few fresh fruits to make this bliss in a jar.  It’s that good!

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APRICOT JAM

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg fresh apricots, washed and pitted
  • 1 kg sugar
  • 1 box of powdered pectin
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 5 whole cloves

Yields about 6 8-oz jars

DIRECTIONS:

I use this canning kit for years now; it’s relatively cheap, and does the job very well.

Sterilize the jars: Either put them in hot wash dishwasher cycle so that they are clean and hot by the time you use them, or dunk them in boiling water and keep them hot.

Sterilize the lids: boil the tops in a small pan filled with enough water to cover the lids, keep them hot till needed.

Prepare for canning: bring to boil a large pot of water.  There should be enough water to completely submerge the jars and have about an inch of water on top of them.

Make the jam: in a large pot (I like to use my Dutch Oven) with a potato masher slightly mash the fruit, so some juices are released, but there are still some chunks of fruit left.  Place the pot on heat, to bring the fruit to boil.

While apricots are warming up, whisk lemon juice and pectin together until pectin is dissolved.  Add the juice mixture to the apricots, mix to incorporate.  When the juices start bubbling, mix in the sugar and steer with a wooden spoon until completely dissolved. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.

Bring the jam to complete boil (when it doesn’t stop boiling if you steer it with a spoon).  Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, taking off the foam if it forms.  Note: to lower the foam you can add a tiny bit of butter to the pot.

Jar the jam:  carefully remove the hot jar and fill it with the jam using a canning funnel, leaving at least a ¼ inch space between the jam and the edge of the jar. With a clean wet towel remove any excess jam from the edge of the jar.  Using a magnetic lid lifter remove the lid from boiling water, and place it on top of the jar. Secure the lid.  Repeat with the remaining jam.

Using the jar lifter, carefully place the lidded jars in the large pot of boiling water, make sure they are completely submerged.  Boil for about 10 minutes.

Remove the hot jars using the jar lifter, and place them on a towel.  Let cool completely before labeling.  Make sure the lid tops are not popping in the center.  If they are, they should be removed and re-sealed (same process – wash and sterilize the jar and a lid, bring the jam to boil, and re-can it. It’s very important that the edge of the jar is clean.

It will take a couple of weeks for the jam to set.  Store it in a dark chilled place, and patiently wait for the winter!

Apricot Dessert

When we moved to our house 3 years ago, we were very happy to meet the new neighbors.  But little did we know that the AWESOMEST neighbor of not just our block, but easily the city, possibly the world, and the galaxies far-far away, is actually right across the street from us.

If he borrows your car keys – it’s only to give your car a “quick rinse”; if his ladder is out – no doubt he’ll offer to wash your windows; if your father-in-law is bored – The Awesomest Neighbor will take him for sightseeing.  And the list goes on and on!

Moreover, he is the most grateful recipient of all the things I bake.   Not only does he find the best words to praise them, he can also chow down 2-3…-4 helpings of my desserts in one sitting; which is probably 2-3…-4 times more than what your daily calorie intake should be.

So, since we are in this healthy eating craze, our dear friend, The Awesomest Neighbor, will have to go on a diet too (at least when stopping by this household)…  Milton, I hope you keep visiting us [keep asking for our car keys/call us when Costco offers “killer deals”/volunteer to babysit …]  after you try these no-sugar-no-butter-no-flour desserts.

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APRICOT COCONUT CANDY

INGREDIENTS:

  • 350 g organic dried apricots
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes

DIRECTIONS:

Process apricots through a meat grinder.  Place ground apricots on a cutting board lined with parchment paper.  Cover with a plastic wrap and roll into a flat sheet about 5 mm thick.  Cut into domino-sized rectangles with a pizza cutter.

Dip each slice in coconut flakes.

Store in an air-tight container.

Voilà!

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