Recently I had my first canning experience. Actually it was not out of adventurousness but rather necessity. OK, I’m perhaps being a bit dramatic, but I brought home a couple of jars of Apricot Vanilla jam from France and it has quickly become a kind of jam obsession. The sweet, floral taste of the apricots is rounded out by a deep vanilla flavor that I find wildly appealing. One way I absolutely love to eat it is as a topping for cottage cheese or the thick yogurt cheese from Turkey or the Middle East called Labne. So I had to figure out a strategy for replacing my stash once I ran out.
My mother-in-law regularly preserves jams, jellies, and syrups of all kinds, and always made it seem reasonably easy. She does not sterilize her jars, and I’ve since found plenty of recipes and sources that do not require it as long as you are canning fruit and not vegetables, and you put the liquid still boiling into the jar and seal it immediately. Simply take the jar out of the dishwasher hot, or wash in soap and very warm water just before pouring in the jam.
So I tried to recreate the luscious flavor of the jam I bought, and I think it was quite successful! If you don’t feel up to making fresh jam, try taking a jar of high quality apricot jam (look for ones made with pure cane sugar, they’re usually higher quality), warm it in a saucepan over low heat, and add vanilla bean or vanilla sugar. Pour it back into the jar and store in the refrigerator.
Here’s my homemade recipe, which is really very simple. Feel free to adjust the amounts based on what you have. I would recommend getting a kitchen scale if you ever plan to follow recipes from other countries, since most other places give weight instead of cups. This is actually more accurate and easier, assuming you have a scale. I got an old fashioned non-digital one for about $15 and it has served me well.
Apricot Vanilla Jam
- 800 grams de-pitted apricots (about 15 apricots)
- 500 grams sugar
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (you could also try replacing with whatever vanilla flavoring you have on hand)
Remove the pits from the apricots and cut into small chunks. Place in a large bowl and add in the sugar, vanilla, and lemon. Mix well, cover, and set aside for an hour or so.
Place apricots in a pot or saucepan and simmer on low until the fruit breaks down, about 20-30 minutes. Still boiling, pour into warm jars and seal tightly. Turn jars upside down and allow to cool.