Someone in my home has jam envy. And it’s not me.
He should be jealous. David Tanis, chef and columnist, says apricots make the ‘cat’s meow’ of jam. The jam against which all others should be measured. I got it right on my first try. You will, too.
Tanis is all about eating real food when it’s in season, and you should find apricots at least through the rest of July. I’ve done a quick roast of them and served them for breakfast with yogurt, but this jam is my favorite. The recipe comes from his cookbook, Heart of the Artichoke. This book is organized into seasonal menus, but it starts off with his kitchen rituals, which are essentially simple pleasures of the everyday kitchen. Peeling an apple. Making morning oatmeal. Beans on toast. And knowing how to make a little jam.
Tanis makes it easy to follow along. Split the fresh apricots in half and toss the pits. Bury the fruit in sugar and add some water. Stir and simmer for a half hour. Watch the cut sides brighten to yellow and be glad when the apricots succumb toward the end of the simmer. Let it rest overnight, and by breakfast, you have jam.
The jam is sweet and tart, like a perfectly ripe apricot. The taste alone won us over, but the color remains a brilliant shade of orange and for me, that seals the deal.
Spread it generously on a slice of buttered toast or swirl it into oatmeal. My next batch may end up pressed into the center of thumbprint cookies. Or I might try infusing the jam with herbs or vanilla.
There was one rather romantic part of the recipe that didn’t quite happen for me. Tanis says a “lovely apricot-colored foam” will rise to the top and can be skimmed off to eat. My batch bubbled nicely but not really into anything I could skim onto toast or yogurt. Danny thought it was a frilly move anyway, but I want to let you know the jam will turn out fine with or without it.
I’m smitten either way. This jam will become a kitchen ritual for us, too.
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p.s. The blog got a big makeover today (thanks to Maggie Waller)! It feels fresh and I’m really excited about it. Please take a look around. The new visual recipe index is especially fun. Also, today is Google Reader’s last day. Make sure to switch over to a new rss feeder. Feedly and Bloglovin’ are popular alternatives. I’m using Feedly.
Apricots, with their brief season throughout the summer, have the fuzz of a peach and a sweet-tart quality to them. No matter the ripeness of your apricots, an equal amount of sugar is needed for a balanced jam. David Tanis, the master of this simple recipe for a little jam, says it is best the week it’s made. This recipe for quick jam will also work for blackberries and figs.
2 cups sugar
bread and butter, for serving
Bubbles will start to form from the center of the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the apricots break down into a jam and it coats the back of a spoon, 30 minutes.
Take the pot off the heat, cover, and let cool overnight at room temperature. In the morning, if the jam looks a bit thin, place it back on the stove for about another 15 minutes. If the jam is too thick, add a bit of water and simmer until it looks right. If it looks good, spread the jam on buttered toast. Ladle the rest of the jam into clean jars with tight lids and refrigerate.
Makes about 22 ounces of jam. Recipe from Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis.