If there is one fruit that epitomizes Summer, it is apricot, with its sunshine color and sweet, fragrant taste. For a few short weeks, these delightful fruits adorn my breakfast table, but all too soon, their season is over. So thank heavens for preserving and jam-making is the theme of this week. By making Apricot Ginger Jam, I can preserve the taste of Summer well into the cool, dark evenings of Autumn. It is one of the best toast toppings in the world.
I always thought that making jam (apricot ginger jam for specific) was vaguely mysterious, requiring a talent I probably did not possess. Then, a couple of years ago, when my perusal of recipe books began in earnest, I discovered that jam-making was a very quick and easy process, with very few ingredients, and no tricky techniques to speak of. I couldn’t believe that all you need is some fruit and some sugar.
There is, of course, the technical issue of actually preserving the stuff – how to sterilize a jar, what temperature everything should be, what to do with the little waxed circles and cellophane – but again, it was not nearly as complicated as I thought.
A jar is easily sterilized by washing it in hot, soapy water, rinsing it, then allowing it to dry in a warm oven. The temperature rule is equally straightforward: when preserving, it’s either hot jar and hot jam (so you pot the jam as soon as it’s ready and with the jar straight from the oven) or cold jar and cold jam (so you leave both to cool completely). Lukewarm of either is bad, as it can lead to mold.
With the basics sorted, I became confident to experiment, hence this healthy apricot ginger jam. It is not the quickest jam to make; because of the addition of lemon juice, it takes longer to thicken. But the extra time is worth it for such a zingy and delightful combination of flavors. The ginger adds an enlivening warmth, while the lemon adds a zing of citrus, which together with the more delicate flavor of the apricots, is the ultimate taste of Summer.
This simple apricot ginger jam would be perfect in the Autumn, but it smells so good while it’s cooking that it’s almost impossible not to open a jar as soon as it’s cooled. Best to make a large batch! Here is how to make apricot ginger jam:
Apricot Ginger Jam
- 800 g 2 punnets fresh apricots
- 400 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Sterilize the jars by washing and placing on a baking tray in a warm oven to dry.
- Halve the apricots and remove stones. Place the halves into a large pan with the sugar and lemon juice.
- Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 mins, stirring occasionally.
- The fruit will break down, then the mixture will start to thicken. When you can push it with a spoon and it wrinkles slightly, it is ready.
- Remove any scum on top by briefly placing a sheet of kitchen roll onto the jam.
- Take the jars out of the oven and fill with the jam. Place a waxed circle on top of each, then cover with cellophane, or put the lid on tightly.
- Hopefully there will be a little jam left over in the pan to eat with a piece of bread!