Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Blackberry Apricot Jam

Last week I wanted to preserve every piece of fruit I could find, probably because I am desperately clinging to summer, trying to make it last forever. I know the long New England winter is on its way, and maybe a little summer in a jar will help get us through it. First I made honey-preserved plums with some pretty yellow plums from the Medford Farmers Market. Then I tried a variation of this gorgeous Blackberry Apricot Jam from Food in Jars (the force behind my favorite canning cookbook).
This weekend we ate our way through the one odd jar that wasn't quite full. We swirled heaping spoonfuls into steel coat oats. My husband made biscuits that we spread generously with butter and jam. Then we stirred some into plain greek yogurt. It's sweet, a little tangy, and the hint of cinnamon gives it a little taste of fall so that the change of the seasons doesn't feel quite so scary. 
Finally, if you're new to jam and canning, dive right in! It's not nearly as intimidating as you might think! If you're looking for a kit to help you get started, I like this one.

Makes ~2.5 pints

1 1/2 cup blackberries (two 6-oz containers)
3 1/2 cup apricot puree (one 1.25 lb container + a pint basket)
2 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 - 1/2 orange, zested and juiced
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 Tb classic pectin (or 1 pouch of liquid pectin)

First, prepare to sterilize your jars in a large stock pot. Fill the pot with water, and place a metal steamer basket (or canning rack) in the bottom to keep the jars completely surrounded by water. Submerge the jars, cover the pot, and let it come to a boil while you prepare your jam. When ready to fill the jars, simply remove them from the boiling water with tongs, and place on a clean dry towel.

While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the fruit.  Coarsely mash blackberries in a bowl. I used a muddler, but you could also use a potato masher or a fork. Halve and pit the apricots, and puree in a blender or food processor.
Heat a non-reactive pan (enameled cast iron dutch oven, stainless steel) over medium-high heat.  Add mashed blackberries, apricot puree, and sugar, and let the mixture come up to a boil stirring frequently, scraping the bottom of the pan periodically to avoid burning.
Add the cinnamon, orange zest, and orange juice. Once the mixture starts to thicken, stir in the pectin, and let the jam boil for about 5 minutes, continuing to scrape the bottom periodically to avoid burning.
(Note: I used classic pectin which is said to set more firmly than liquid pectin).

Remove the jars from the boiling water onto a clean dry towel. Meanwhile bring about an inch of water in a small saucepan to a very gentle simmer (not a boil), and drop in the lids for a few minutes to soften the sealing compound while you fill your jars.

Fill your jars with the jam (I use a ladle and a canning funnel). Wipe the mouths of the jars clean with a damp cloth or paper towel. Remove the lids from the simmering water and place over the mouths of the jars. Then screw on the rings to hold the lids in place.
Submerge the jars in the boiling water and process for 10 minutes. Remove the jars and place them back on the clean dry towel.
Once the jars are cool, remove the rings and check to ensure that the lids sealed properly. If sealed, stash the jam in your pantry, saving it for some cold winter's day when you need a taste of summer fruit. If any jars don't seal, merely refrigerate them, and use them within the next couple of weeks.

(Note: This recipe makes enough for 2.5 pint jars. I still processed my half-full jar but stored it in the fridge and opened it this weekend to use immediately, as it will not keep as well since half the jar contains some air)

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