Preserving apricots

As with all other produce this summer, we’re blessed with a plentiful crop of apricots. Their main growing area is in the warm southern regions of Slovakia, but thanks to the new tougher varieties developed over the last few years, we can now harvest this soft, fleshy fruit in colder climates as well.

I don’t know if it’s the colour, the fragrance or the taste that makes apricots my top summer fruit (alongside peaches and berries). They’re best when hand-picked in the garden, but I also love to preserve them in bottles or make an apricot jam.

Home-preserved apricots were my comfort food after a knee surgery three years ago. I ate half a bottle every day until my supplies lasted; sweet, luscious apricots were a boost to my body and mind, their golden colour bringing a ray of sunshine to the glumness of that winter. It was only later that I learned about the calcium, potassium, iron and a host of other minerals and vitamins that apricots provide not only for bone health.

If you’re planning to preserve apricots, or any fruit in general, make sure your sink, worktop, jars, bottles and all the kitchenware you will use are sparkling clean. The same goes for your hands.

apricots

Bottled Apricots

  • 1 kg ripe but firm apricots, halved and stoned
  • 500 – 600 g granulated sugar (depending on sweetness of fruit)
  • 1litre water

Method:

  1. Wash the apricots thoroughly under running water. Cut off any blemishes and transfer to a clean bowl.
  2. In a cooking pot, bring the water to the boil and set aside. Add the sugar and let dissolve. Stir well.
  3. Cram the apricot halves into the clean jars up to their grooves. Ladle in as much warm syrup as to cover all the fruit. Screw on the lids and place the jars on a baking sheet, spacing them 5 – 7 cm apart. Put in the oven and sterilize at 85ºC for 20 minutes.
  4. Let cool down slowly in the oven with its door slightly ajar.
  5. Store in a cool, dark place. Once opened, keep the bottle in the fridge and use its contents within a month.

Apricot Jam

  • 1 kg soft and ripe apricots, stoned
  • 400 – 500 g granulated sugar (depending on sweetness of fruit)
  • ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, dried lemon zest (optional)

Method:

  1. Wash the apricots thoroughly under running water, cut off any blemishes and dice the fruit. Put in a large bowl, add the sugar and stir it all around the apricots. Cover with a lid or a dishcloth, and let stand in a cool place overnight.
  2. By the following day, the sweetened apricots will have softened and turned into a syrupy mixture. Transfer the mixture to a food processor or use a hand blender to break the remaining fruit pieces. Don’t worry if there are a few tiny bits left, they will add more texture to the jam. Throw in the spices, if preferred, and stir well.
  3. Follow the photo-guide here to cook the jam in batches.
  4. Don’t forget to screw the lid onto each jar while the jam is still hot. While the jars are cooling down at room temperature, you might hear short popping sounds which, together with slightly pulled-in lids, indicate a good seal.
  5. Store the jars in a cool, dark place. When opened, keep in the fridge and use the contents within 3 weeks. DSC_0293

Did you know that overripe and slightly bruised apricots make delicious cakes? Try and use them instead of plums in this Low-Sugar Non-Dairy Plum Pie recipe, and I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the result.

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