Swimming in Apricots

Sorry the picture is a little blurry but I was cross-eyed-tired. I’ve been busy this week! I’m milking goats for a friend on vacation, trying to keep up with the bean harvest and apricots are finally ripe.

There is but one local fruit that I don’t have growing in my yard and it’s apricots.  I planted a pear, an almond, two hazelnut, and two peach trees this year.  Apricots, however, I just couldn’t find a spot for.  So each year I buy boxes of them from Rama farms at the UW market.

I order them during the winter, always too many and then just before they are ripe they email me and ask if I want to replace the eaters with jammers.  Since I’m making jam with them I always agree.  Then I pick them up, bring them home and realize that 60 pounds of apricots is way too many.  So I jam and we eat and I dry and we eat and I freeze and we eat.  And then I phone up friends and ask if they can come take the rest away right now because I am done.

I realized this time, too, that I only have one case of half pint jars left and even fewer pint jars left since I always end up giving the jam away over the winter.  I now have apricot marmalade in quart jars.  I kidded myself that it would be perfect for making barbecue sauce, or ham glaze, or fruit leather and that I would want such large quantities at a time.

The flavor is intense – amazing – surreal – caramelized – condensed goodness, the color is rich and warm and the jars fill fill my heart as well as my pantry.  Apricot marmalade was my grandmother’s favorite and has always been mine as well.  I can find a million uses for apricot marmalade, from croissants to jam bars to fruit leather to surprise filling for hazelnut-studded chevre balls or to flavor ice cream in the dead of winter.

So now I have two boxes of apricot marmalade, 3 quarts of dried apricot halves and many fond memories of summer finally arrived.

Apricot Marmalade

2.5 pounds organic apricots, halved and stones removed

3.75 cups organic sugar

Juice of 1 lemon, or 1/4 cup Rockridge Orchard apple cider vinegar

Combine the apricots, sugar and lemon juice in a heavy bottomed pot.  Bring to a boil, watching closely and boil, stirring frequently until your marmalade is as thick as you like.  If you stop early you will have apricot sauce which is lovely on pancakes with vanilla ice cream.  If you cook it longer you will eventually get a thick jam perfect for spreading on tiny toasts with chevre.  You can even take that one step further and spread in layers then dry in the dehydrator so you have a pliable layer of apricot paste, perfect for cutting into cubes like Aplets and Cotlets ™ and to take that one step further you can even dip those in ganache.  To can your summer goodness fill sterlized canning jars to within 1/4″ of the top of the jar. Seal and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

11 Responses to Swimming in Apricots

  1. Annette, we’re living parallel lives this week, sans the goats. I’m knee deep in apricots and finishing up a batch of this amazing Alastian apricot jam–I’ll post the recipe shortly.

    As for planting an apricot tree in Seattle, don’t bother. I’m currently planning funeral arrangements for my fifth attempt at growing an apricot tree. I’ve tried Puget Gold, Harcot, Harglow and Westcot, apricot varieties suited for cooler summer climates. They bloom too early for any respectable bee (honey or mason) to pollinate. Peach borers prefer apricot trees and eventually weaken and kill the trees in a couple years.

    This is a man who is growing a Chilean wine palm here, but who believes apricot trees are hopeless undertakings.

    Yep, I’m buying apricots from farmers in Eastern Washington; I’ve never eaten finer.

    PS: There is one large healthy apricot tree I know about on Vashon (an anomaly). The owner told me he has never picked an apricot from the tree. I’m just saying.

  2. You had me at “milking goats for a friend on vacation.” And the apricot marmalade looks amazing too. BUT…we are raising up young does to milk and suspect we will never again have a little thing called a vacation. It’s good to know there are friends in the world as true as you.

    We know only one grower in Maine who has luck with apricots. I may have to beg, borrow, or offer eggs.

    Thanks!

  3. I can’t wait for my apricots and peaches!!! This looks lovely!

  4. Sounds amazing! But…why is it called a marmalade and not a butter? :)

  5. Tom I’ve definitely written off apricots which is a shame but since I don’t like to eat them fresh it’s ok. That way I can buy a few boxes once a year and make a day out of it and be done with them. Are you making the Ferber recipe? Love her. Sometimes I cook for 20 min then let it sit in the fridge overnight then drain the liquid, boil then add back the fruit. You definitely get a nicer gel that way. Can’t wait to see your jam! Are you getting fancy and adding some pits?

    June I’m more than happy to swap something with you! And I bet if you get on a goat list you will have no problem finding a sitter. I’m fighting people off for the chance to milk them this week!

    Diana I am eager to can peaches too – another 2 weeks I think. We are on our last jar only because I’ve been hiding them at the back of the pantry!
    Myrnie its so amazing. I’m calling it marmalade because there are bits of fruit suspended in clear gel which is the very definition of marmalade. You can also call it jam. Just don’t call it jelly. ;p

  6. Sorry, just noticed you asked why it wasn’t a butter. Fruit butters are smooth spreads and I deliberately (out of laziness too) left the apricots in halves so they would retain some form. I love the contrast of the clear gel and the tooth of fruit lumps you get. I just wish I wasn’t busy milking goats every morning early so I could make some English muffins for this. I love apricot marmalade on muffins with cheese for breakfast! Oh and I just remembered another great reason you need apricot jam – sacher torte! And I tried some over vanilla ice cream with some of my husband’s Macallan’s Scotch whiskey the other night and it was amazing.

  7. a lot of work there! apricot jam is my favorite. I made some last year, but dont think I will get around to it this year.

  8. I’m sad we missed apricots! Still hoping we can find some so we can stock up on our jams!

  9. Lara – it wasn’t so bad but I had to milk the goats in the middle so it’s not as thick as I wanted. Ah well. Apricot syrup…
    Lauriel it’s amazing what a small window it is for apricots. You just may!

  10. Do you remember how many jars this recipe makes if done in these quantities?

  11. Annette Cottrell

    Hi April, it was just shy of 6 pints so don’t worry if your sixth jar is not canning worthy – just start eating from that jar. :) Glad you got in on the buy!

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