Monday, August 30, 2010
Apricots are a very soft fruit that is difficult to transport to markets, and they are not as popular as many other fruits available this time of year. As a result, many growers have stopped producing and selling them. I watch for the brief period when they show up at our Farmer's Market and when they do, I immediately buy some to make Apricot-Pineapple Jam.
We made this jam every year on the ranch when I was growing up there. The Farm Journal describes it as 'pure gold' and in the gray darkness of our winters here in the Pacific Northwest, we welcome this bright sunshine-gold jam on toast -or jam on pancakes and waffles European-style, rather than North American-style with maple syrup.
Despite anxieties and intimidating directions surrounding the process, making jam is really easy: Chop up the fruit, add sugar and cook it until its jam. "What they don't tell you is that when it has turned into jam, it looks like jam. It is thick and has the consistency of cold molasses" points out the immortal and always amusing Laurie Colwin in her essay 'Jam Anxiety.' It really is that easy.
Adapted from Farm Journal's Freezing and Canning Cookbook
Mix in heavy bottomed preserving pot:
8 c. (about 4 lbs) diced apricots
8 c. sugar
Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes.
2-20 oz cans crushed pineapple, drained
Bring to a boil again. I often don't actually read these incredibly simple directions and then of course, forget and dump the undrained pineapple in with the apricots and sugar. I just cook it all for 30 minutes or "until it looks like jam" and it works out just fine.
Put jam in jars and seal. Leave undisturbed overnight. Label and store. Makes 6 pints.
Note: Use some slightly under ripe fruit. If all the apricots are dead ripe, the jam will have a softer set -not a bad thing if serving it on pancakes and waffles.
Apricot-Pineapple Jam mixed with an equal amount of soy sauce and a bit of white wine or rice vinegar makes a really great glaze to baste on grilled or roasted meats, and pork tenderloin and duck breast are especially good with this glaze. This is roasted goat I made last night for dinner.
Yesterday after I'd made this jam, we harvested our potatoes, and I was making pickled carrots and dill pickles and packaging goat meat. For dinner I put these vegetables in the roasting pan with a bit of water before adding the meat. Bake 350 for 1 1/2-2 hours covered, and add glaze last 15 minutes of cooking, without the cover. So easy and so good.