Autumn is falling on Kansas pretty steadily this year, which is somewhat unusual. Fall is my favorite season, and we don’t often have a marked space of time where we can enjoy it. So I’m running around all over outside enjoying the chill in the air and the need for a light jacket! But here at Safe Haven Farm, even when fall’s chill or winter’s frigid temperatures take over, we usually have a bit of summer still saved up.
The farm has an orchard with pear, apricot, and mulberry trees. The mulberries are always everywhere, every season, perfect for snacking on when you’re working in the yard. And the pears produce every year all the time, but they’re really notoriously hard to work with. The apricots are a different story. We get a harvest once every three or four years, so we try to make it last.
This year, the harvest wasn’t great. So we got a few jars of jam out of our trees, but I thought I’d share the recipe we use in case anyone wants it. It’s super simple, completely natural, and incredibly tasty.
The apricots really need to be ripe. They’ll come off the tree without too much resistance if they are. If you have to fight them too much, they aren’t ready. And you can pick them up off the ground, but make sure to check for bugs. This year, we laid tarps down under the trees and gathered them that way.
After you pick them, rinse them off. Our trees are totally organic, mainly because we just don’t have the time and resources to use anything on the trees. But what we get is always really heavy on flavor. Our apricots are old-fashioned and very small, but they taste really intense.
Once you rinse them, it’s best to cut them in half to remove the pit. Then you trim off the bad spots and quarter them or slice them. There’s no right or wrong way to do it.
Then, you dump them in a big pot. Measure them, so you know how many cups of apricots you have, because that will tell you how much sugar and lemon juice to put in. For each cup of apricots, you need 3/4 cup of sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice. And as a rough estimate, 1-1/2 cups of cut-up apricots will make an 8 oz. jar of jam.
Throw it all in your pot on medium heat and stir, stir, stir, stir, stir. Bring it up to a boil, and get ready for the work to start. You need to keep stirring it to make sure it doesn’t stick or burn, and but you can’t stir too hard or it’ll slosh on you. It might pop on you too.
If you do get popped on (and it hurts bad enough that you need to do something about it), shake the injured appendage sharply and run it under cold water. You’ll be fine.
After the jam’s been boiling for a while, it’ll start foaming. Pretty spectacular foam. The recipe says to cook it for around 30 minutes. We eyeball it. The jam in the pot should have reduced by about half, and it should be thick and shiny. Once you think it’s ready, turn off the heat, get a spoon, and skim the foam off the top. You can put it in another jar and store it in the fridge for ice cream or pancakes. Or you can just eat it on bread once it’s cool.
Then, ladle the jam into your prepared jars. Make sure the rims are clean before you put the flats on and screw on the rounds. Some folks let them cool upside down to help the seal, but generally we just let them sit.
And that’s it. If you want to waterbath them, you can. We only waterbath if we get a giant batch, and that hasn’t happened in a long time.
But that’s how you make apricot jam. It’s not complicated or scary, and you get the best darn jam on the face of the planet… although I might be a tad bit biased.
Soon I’ll have some photos up of how to make pear butter. That’s a little more intense, but it’s definitely a unique Safe Haven Farm experience!