Thursday, August 2, 2012

Apricot Juice and Spiced Apricot Jam

Well the apricots are ready.  We have two apricot trees that are quite different.   I was told that the apricot trees here in Lillooet all got their start from apricot pits brought over by the Chinese labourers that worked on the railroad years ago.  Apricot trees start very easily. 

Our tree in the back has very juicy fruit - so juicy that as the fruit ripens they they start to hang like little sacks of juice.  You don't want to brush against those when you are picking apricots or you'll be covered in sticky juice.  These apricots are great to eat right off the tree or to make into juice.  The fruit on the tree in the front never get that soft.  They are not as sweet to eat right from the tree but they freeze well and are good in desserts and jam.

This year, many of the apricots from the back tree had splits in the skin so were not usable as the ants were drawn to the sweetness.  We think it may have been the weather with the rainy cool spring and then very hot temperatures.  We think the skins might have toughened up and then split as the fruit got larger - but this is just speculation on our parts.

This is how I make juice and jam.  I picked two large buckets of fruit.  I wash, sorted and pitted the apricots.

I then ran the apricots through my juicer.  I have a Breville Juice Fountain Elite.  The juice goes into the jug on the right side and the pulp is collected in the container on the left.

I then bring the juice to a boil.  Skim off any foam so the juice is clearer.

Pour the juice into sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  I got 4 quarts of apricot nectar.  I don't strain out the pulp so the juice is very thick and oh so tasty.

Then I used the leftover pulp for Spiced Apricot Jam.  You could use regular apricots for the jam but would just have to cook it longer.

8 c apricot pulp
4 c sugar
1/3 c lemon juice
1 qt homemade pectin
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves

Pour the pulp and the rest of the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil, stirring frequently so the jam won't burn.  The smell of apricots and spices is wonderful as the jam cooks.

I bought a candy thermometer this year and am using it instead of the cold saucer to test the jam.  You are to cook the jam until it reaches 220°F or 100°C.  Since the pulp was so thick it had a tendency to spatter and spit so I had to put it into a taller pot. 

When it reaches the jam stage, pour into sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  I got 6 pints of jam. 

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