Author: Jennifer Schell • Date: April 18, 2014 • Appears in:
Coming soon to a farmers market near you…!
Early spring gifts will be arriving care of the good earth via your Soil Mate friends over the next couple of months. Local spinach, salad greens, asparagus, radishes, apricots, spring peas, watercress…praise be! Spring is on the way! With gardens soon exploding and farmer’s market stands filling up – this is the time of year to really celebrate your local farms. Cheer for them, buy from them and support them – remember they are working hard to provide healthy food for our families. Help keep your local green world alive and thriving, we must take good care of it or it may disappear.
Sustainability. This word, which in past would have simply been described as ‘survival’, has made a come back in our modern world. With many chefs leading the way – learning to preserve the local bountiful seasons through canning, freezing and drying is an economical and delicious way to live. Not to mention rewarding, there is much pleasure derived from handing over a jar of homemade preserves to a friend and saying “I made this for you”. This year, why not plan out a preserving schedule starting with two early favorites for jamming – apricots and strawberries.
My dear friend Irene Ens (known as The Jam Goddess) has mastered the art of preserves and creates the most extraordinary jams, jellies and compotes. From Rhubarb Rosemary to Blueberry Lime – her combinations never fail to thrill the palate. Check out her website for more recipes and tips: http://jamgoddess.com
Irene gifted me with a couple of key jamming tricks. One is to always macerate the fruit overnight in sugar – it deepens the flavour and aids in gelling. She is a purist. There is no pectin added in her recipes, they are created the old-fashioned way. The other trick is to add a vanilla bean. The aromatic addition of this luxurious natural flavouring pairs perfectly with strawberry jam and apricot jam. (*Try adding a bean to each jar when canning peaches!)
Irene was kind enough to share this amazing recipe with us. Thank you Irene!
Apricot Jam with Vanilla
“Apricot jam is my favourite. I think that apricots exist only to give their rosy lives to jam. Jam is the place where the fullness of their taste can be savored. I know it is a bit early for them, but I wanted you to have this recipe at the ready for when you see the first ones. The recipe should be started the night before you want to cook the jam. The vanilla adds a wonderful dimension to the jam but leave it out if you wish.”
- Jam Goddess
½ kg apricots (after the stones are out which means about 700 gm apricot with stones)
2 cups sugar
3 ounces water
Juice of one small lemon
1 Vanilla Bean cut in half lengthwise
Rinse and cut apricots in half. Cut in quarters if you have really large apricots. Put all the ingredients into a pan and bring to a simmer. Do not let it boil until all the sugar is dissolved. When it reaches a simmer, pour contents back into a bowl. Take a piece of wax paper and press onto the surface of the mixture so that the apricots are not exposed to air. Refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, sieve the juice into a pan and boil until quite thick continually stirring. It will bubble when it’s ready. This small quantity will reach that stage quickly, so stay alert. At this point, you add the apricot halves back into the mixture. Bring to a boil again stirring gently for about 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla beans.
Put jam in a washed and sterilized jar. (Sterilize by leaving jar in oven at 250 degrees F for 10 minutes)