Apricot

"Aprikosen, 7 Juni". -The sign read for over a week.

It's funny how even a word written in a language not your own can still strike a strong cord of an almost edible nostalgia. Have you ever tried a Blenheim apricot? It leaves it's mark.

Stone fruits are a pretty big deal here in Switzerland. Year round, perfectly firm, tart and ripe plums and apricots are sold in the frozen department of the general supermarket for your mid-winter kuchen (cake) cravings. And not a single block of old, over-frozen, post season fruit barely suitable for the occasional smoothie, like I once found in the states. I'm talking about ruby-skinned, perfectly cut in half at their peak, and flash frozen for ease of cake baking. But when they are ripe and ready here, people don't hold back, and they are sold in no less quantity than over 2 kilos.

I was there at apricot man's stand on the 7th of June, ready for my bunddle. 2.5 kilos for 19 francs. That afternoon, my sous chef and I went to work. 

Apricot jam is a no brainer as I think it profiles the golden globes best. Tart and not too sweet. A PB&J is almost exclusively sworn to the raspberry, and a summer pie seems to always be peach territory. I prefer my apricots in a jam for my morning toast with my tea, and in a rustic french-style gallette with ground bitter almonds (apricot kernels). Of which I am currently cracking open and drying out the lot from the leftover 2.5 kilos of fruit. More on that process later.

The apricot jam recipe I love and have put into practice for years is this one by David Lebovitz. This time I added ground cardamom to the mix, because it's great friends with the apricot.

Here is my variation on his recipe:

Apricot Jam with Cardamom

Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz. Yeild 3-4 jars

  • 2 1/4 pounds (1kg) fresh apricots
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) water
  • 3 cups (600g) sugar
  • 1/2 t fresh ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • optional: 1 teaspoon kirsch

1. Cut the apricots in half and extract the pits. If you wish, crack a few open and put a kernel in each jam jar you plan to fill. I highly recommend this as it gives the jam a slightly bitter almond flavor (think marzipan).

2. Place the apricots in a stockpot or Dutch oven, and add the water. Cover the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until the apricots are tender and cooked through.

3. Put a small plate in the freezer.

4. Add the sugar to the apricots and cook, uncovered, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. As the mixture thickens and reduces, stir frequently to make sure the jam isn’t burning on the bottom.

5. When the jam looks thick and is looks slightly-jelled, turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on the chilled plate. Put back in the freezer for a few minutes, then do the nudge test: If the jam mounds and wrinkles, it’s done. If not, continue to cook, then re-test the jam until it reaches that consistency.

(You can use a candy thermometer if you wish. The finished jam will be about 220ºF, 104ºC.)

6. Once done, stir in the lemon juice and kirsch, if using, and ladle the jam into clean jars. Cover tightly and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, refrigerate until ready to use.

Storage: I find this jam will keep up to one year if refrigerated. If you wish to can it for long-term preservation, you can refer to the USDA Canning Guidelines for techniques.

I also made a version of my Everyday Cake with apricot, sour cream, and spelt flour. A recipe I am still developing in it's variations and will post when I am ready. Now it's just a teaser to help insist that you put apricots in every baked good from now until August. Your welcome. 

 

-Ash