Apricot jam is one of the most delicious stone fruit jams. Whether spread thickly onto white bread with butter or dolloped onto creamy rice pudding it is always a favourite.
1 kilogram of firm apricots
850 grams of caster sugar
1 cup water
juice of half a lemon
pips and zest of half a lemon
1 quarter of a firm, green apple
Cut the fruit into 1cm sized cubes, setting aside the kernels.
Put the lemon pips and zest along with the cubed apple into a piece of muslin and tie with uncoloured string. (Alternatively use a clean pair of clear tights). Set aside. The apple and pips will increase the pectin levels in the jam and help it to set.
Place the fruit, water and lemon juice into a wide, heavy based frying pan. Using a frying pan increases the surface area of the jam allowing it to reach temperature more quickly. The cast iron pans are best. Over a medium heat cook the fruit down until it is soft and breaks apart (10 – 15 mins).
Meanwhile place your sugar onto a shallow and flat baking tray covered with baking paper, and place into a warm oven (150 degrees C) until the sugar is also warm (5-10 mins). This is essential as pouring cold sugar into the hot fruit mixture will bring the temperature down and affect the jam.
Once you have a soft fruit soup mixture and the sugar is warm, turn the heat onto low and add the sugar. Cook on low until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then turn the heat to high and allow the mixture to come to a rolling boil. Stir occasionally so it does not stick to the base of the pan.
The setting temperature of jam is 105*C, so in theory once it has reached this point it is ready, however, there is a good way of testing this. Place a saucer into the freezer until it is cold. Then take a spoonful of your boiling jam and place on the saucer. Put it in the fridge for a few minutes. If the jam is ready it will maintain two separate halves when you draw your finger through it, if the mixture rejoins in the middle then it is not ready. Continue to boil the jam, repeating this test every 5 minutes until it holds its shape.
Once the jam is ready, pour it hot into hot, sterilised jars. Tip the jars onto their lids so the hot jam kills any bacteria on them.