During the summer months at The Cook's Atelier, we get busy slicing, dicing and preserving the tastes of summer. On the top of our list this time of year is our favorite apricot confiture. Recipe below.
Although you can prepare fruit in an ordinary large saucepan, a special jam pan will make the process easier. Our favorite jam pans are copper and can be found on our online shop, The French Larder at The Cook's Atelier. Jam pans are wider at the top than the bottom, which makes the evaporation process much quicker than a normal saucepan. The key to making great jam is to cook the fruit quickly so the fruit retains its bright color.
You will need mason jars in suitable sizes. We particularly love the sweet miniature versions of Weck confiture jars (also found on our online shop, The French Larder). The jars and lids (but not the screw on bands or clips) must be sterilized before use - either in the dishwasher or submerged in a large saucepan full of water brought to a simmer. Leave the jars and lids in the hot water until you are ready to fill them.
You can use a large stock pot that will accommodate several mason jars. It should have a lid and a rack for the jars to rest on.
A wide-mouth funnel is helpful for pouring preserves into the jars. You will also need tongs, to remove the hot jars from the water canner. Depending on the number of jars, it is also helpful to have dishtowels at the ready to slip between the jars while in the canner to prevent them from banging together while they process.
Remove the sterilized jar from the hot water and fill it with the preserves, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch space at the top. Remove any air bubbles with a spatula. Place a lid on top, and screw on the band (not too tightly). Repeat with the other jams, and place them in the stock pot. Fill the stock pot with water to cover the jars by at least 1 inch. Cover the canner with the lid, bring the water to a full boil, and leave for 15 minutes.
Remove the jars from the water using the tongs, and place them on a folded towel. Leave them for at least 12 hours and the test the seal by removing the band and attempting to lift the lid. If you cannot lift the lid with your fingers, the seal is secure. Replace the bands, label the jars, and store them in a cool, dark, dry place.
Note: The canning jars in the states have a bubble in the center of the lid. When the jars are sealed properly, it will indent.
Small Batch Apricot Confiture
1 kg apricots, just ripe
700 g granulated sugar
1/4 cup of water
1 lemon, juiced
Place a few small saucers in the freezer to use to check the setting point.
Cut the apricots in half and remove the pits. Reserve four or five pits, and discard the rest. Cut the apricots into 1-inch pieces. Wrap the pits in a kitchen towel, and hit them with a hammer to break the hard outer shell, but keeping the soft inner seed, which resembles an almond, in tack.
Note: In France, the apricot pits are used in confections and confiture for flavoring. Remove them from the jam before ladling them into the jars as they are poisonous if eaten.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot or jam pan, combine the apricots, sugar, soft inner seeds and water. Stir to combine.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring occasionally with a long wooden spoon and skimming foam as necessary, until reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Test the jam when the juice has thickened and the bubbles are large. The setting point has been reached when a drop placed on a chilled saucer forms a skin that is visible when lightly pushed. Remove from the heat and ladle into dry, warm jars and process as normal.