I’m resurrecting this blog because it was a good blog back in the day. It’s been a year since I’ve posted and that’s just a shame. Why did I let it go for so long? Got busy, moved into our first house, Case got cancer, friends had and lost babies, we gained and lost weight, my business continues to grow. All good and bad and bittersweet things. Actually, I blame Facebook. Facebook replaced the need for composing a long thought with instantly posting links to other people’s thoughts. No more! So as my first post back, I thought I’d post a recipe like in the good ol’ days of this blog.
So about three weeks ago, apricots fell in plague-like amounts in our front yard. I got all Martha Stewart on them and make roughly 10 batches of preserves. It felt good – it actually made me giddy that I was being a good steward of our little tree and since apricot jam just HAPPENS to be my favorite, all-time jam, it was a win-win.
I felt like the original flavor was the best, even though I got a little slap-happy with my flavor creations (bourbon-brown sugar, Chinese 5 Spice, Vietnamese Cinnamon, Hot and Spicy) So the original recipe is what I will post, along with some photos of the process. If you want the recipe variations, let me know.
This was actually the third gathering
Sterilizing the jars – this is really the only tedious part but as long as you have those rubber tongs, you’re good
This is the first simmer. You take 1 lb of your apricots (a recipe is 2lbs) and simmer till they are completely obliterated. NO trace of chunk left. The smell is intoxicating.
The other half of the 2 lbs, chopped up a little smaller than just halves to be the chunks in the preserves
Simmering with one vanilla bean, scraped of seeds and pod included. THIS, my friends, is the x-factor to this recipe. My favorite place to get vanilla beans is World Market. They come two to a pack, are sealed tight and completely soft! And only 6.99! Unlike expensive grocery store jarred vanilla bean which is about 3x as expensive for dried out beans. World Market is a friend to all!
Filling the jars. Fill all the way to the top, so that when you put your lid on, there will be enough heat to suck and seal it closed!
The first jar of preserves I ever made. I was quite proud. Sitting on top of the fourth bunch I gathered. We had a lot of apricots.
Look at those vanilla beans! All the specks are vanilla – Yeehaw!
The bounty. And now, for the recipe:
Apricot Vanilla Bean
2lbs of halved, pitted apricots – washed
1 1/3 cups sugar
¼ cup water
2 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 whole vanilla bean, halved and scraped
Start with fresh apricots. Just pull them apart with your hands and discard the pits. Weigh out 2lbs.
Pour the sugar and water in a non-reactive stock pot (enamel coated is best.) Let the sugar/water simmer until clear. Pay attention as to not let it burn and turn into caramel! Dump a little over half of your apricots into the pot – stir around to coat. Let simmer until obliterated. Stir somewhat regularly or the bottom will scorch. This process will take about 30-45 min.
I like to chop up the other half a little smaller. The other half will be the chunks in your preserves and I don’t like huge chunks. So once your first half of the apricots are a globby mess, dump the other half of the apricots in, along with the vanilla bean and scraped out seeds and stir around to combine everything. Let simmer till soft. Stir in your lemon juice, let simmer 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pods. Ladle into sterilized jars, filling almost all the way to the top. I use the self-sealing mason jars. Screw the cap on tight, but not crazy tight. After your jars cool on the counter for several hours, they should suction up and seal themselves. You’ll know it happened if you can’t make the top of the lid indent with your finger. Some of mine took almost all night but were all sealed when I woke up. Hooray for the magic of a good night’s sleep
Yields: 2 big jars or 4 small jars of preserves