Wednesday 7 December 2016

Xmas cooking - apricot pineapple jam

It's that time of year, when the month is spent in preparation and lots of cooking for one day! (Or in my family, all the preparations are for an ongoing celebration, so it is definitely more than one day,) The first jam I learned to make when I became interested in canning more than 30 years ago, was an easy apricot-pineapple concoction made from dried apricots and canned pineapple. I have tweaked it over the years, and settled on "Apricot-Pineapple Jam with Almonds" as an annual xmas recipe that I have been making for at least 20 years now. My recipe uses two packages of dried apricots, 1 can of pineapple rings, about 100 grams of flaked almonds, lemon juice & zest and about a half kilo of sugar. The apricots need to be rinsed, removing dirt & unwanted blemishes, and soaked overnight. 

Here is what they look like the next day, after soaking up lots of water.

Loosely pre-chop pineapple rings and add to food processor with apricots. You will need to include some of the juice from the apricot soaking in the processor. If there is a lot of this juice, don't waste it but use it instead of or added to water when simmering the lemon zest.

This is what the apricot and pineapple should look like after processing.

Meanwhile, slice lemon zest and simmer with some water till soft before adding mush. Add juice from canned pineapple, and any additional water if it seems to need it (this concoction will happily cook and simmer while other preparations are being taken care of). Juice lemon and set aside. Have sugar in a bowl gently warming in upper oven or beside simmering fruit (sugar is only warming naturally, not cooking). Prepare jars for canning and other utensils. I sterilise jars by heating in the oven at 200 C/400 F minimum of 20 mins, leave in the oven till ready to use with oven turned off; lids are boiled 5 mins, and utensils are in container of boiled water, ready for use.

When all the fruit seems cooked and somewhat thickened, add lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly about 10 mins then add almonds. Stir and simmer a bit more. You may do the "jam test" by putting a small bit of the jam on a saucer which has been in the freezer; as it cools drag your finger through it -- a bit of drag should be apparent signalling that it is ready. However, with this jam you should simply be able to tell that it is the thickness of jam from stirring!

I always put a small amount of the hot jam in the bottom of a jar first, before going back and filling. This way you will know immediately if the jam is too hot for the jar (you will know right away if the jar cracks!).

This is really delicious jam and the yield is pretty good! For many years I have used the flaked almonds as a luxurious addition, but I remember once or twice adding sultanas (make sure they are very clean beforehand and stir the jam well so they don't stick to the bottom of the pot). The zest from an orange or clementine can also be added at the same time as the lemon zest in the initial simmer.

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