The most delicious apricot jam

We get a lot of questions in apricot season about which apricots are best for jam. We grow about ten different varieties of apricot (at last count), so it’s a fair question!

Old Australian favourites include Trevatt and Moorpark apricots (see a Moorpark below), which both have fantastic flavour and consistency for jam, and make a beautiful bright coloured jam that’s not too dark.

These two also share the characteristic of ripening from the inside, which means that if include some fruit that still looks a little green on the outside it will probably already be sweet and soft enough on the inside to make good jam, but will also have a little bit more pectin in it than overripe fruit, which means the jam will set more easily.

It doesn’t really matter which variety of apricot you use for jam, but here a few tips to help you achieve success and good flavour every time. The basic jam recipe is equal quantities of fruit and sugar, and you should add as little water as possible – if you add water, you have to cook the jam for longer to get it to set, and you risk it developing a dark colour which can look quite unattractive.

Cook the fruit first to the consistency you want, then add the sugar. If you add the sugar at the beginning, the fruit tends to stay in whole pieces rather than break down (if you like chunkier jam, then use this method).

apricot jam, just coming to the boil

Stick to small batches, especially while you’re learning. 1 kg of fruit will make about 6-8 medium jars of jam, and is a great quantity to start with.  If the batch is bigger than 2kg, it can be hard to get the jam to set, and you may end up with a dark coloured jam from having to boil it for too long.

Danny making apricot jam

As long as you’ve properly sterilised your jars and lids before pouring in the jam, it should keep well in the pantry for a couple of years at least (except you’ll probably eat it waaaaay before then).

If you’re not familiar with making jam, don’t be daunted, just give it a try. As long as you manage not to burn it (pay attention, and stir often), nothing really bad can happen – the worst you’re risking is that you end up with rather runny fruit sauce (delicious on ice-cream) rather than jam.

There are lots of variations on this basic recipe of course, so feel free to improvise and experiment.  To save you on time and mistakes, we’ve included a few tried and true recipes (including a sugar-free one), in Fabulous Fruit Preserving.

Happy preserving!

When should you pick your fruit?

Fruit tastes better when allowed to ripen on the tree – don’t you agree? It can be tricky to get the timing of your picking quite right though, because it’s also a good idea not to let it get too ripe.

It’s apricot season at the moment, and they’re a good case in point, because if they’re a bit ripe when you pick them, it’s really easy to damage them.

Ideally when you pick your apricots they’ll come away with the stem, like this…

Or no stem, but a neat little scar where the fruit has pulled off the stem, like this…

One of the risks of letting fruit get too ripe is that you’ll get a picking injury at the stem end, as you can see in the following photo. The fruit has pulled away from the stem when it’s been picked, and made a little tear in the fruit.

Unfortunately this may make the fruit continue to ripen too quickly off the tree as it is likely to soften quickly at the scar site, and it can quickly go mushy.

The injury can also make the fruit vulnerable to brown rot, particularly if you’re growing organically (and we hope you are!).  Brown rot is much more likely to start if the fruit is injured, particularly if you’ve had a rainy season before the fruit was picked (because there’s likely to be more brown rot spores on the fruit).

If your fruit is a bit overripe when you pick, use it as quickly as possible, or get it into the fridge to keep it in good condition. But mainly, try to avoid picking injuries when you harvest!

It can be complicated getting the details right, so we’ve developed Fruit to be Proud Of to help home growers know how to choose the perfect time to pick fruit, learn great technique and proper storage practices to make the most of their precious fruit.

Apricot bottling and berry tarts!

Have you done any fruit bottling this year? Never tried it before? It’s really easy, and a great way to preserve the summer bounty to enjoy through winter.

Our farm is a demonstration of how you can grow and preserve an entire year’s supply of fruit for your family, so each year we practise what we preach and bottle a heap of fruit to see us through winter.

We aim to preserve enough each year so we don’t need to buy fruit at all, so we’re busily filling the pantry at the moment.

It’s still early in the season, so there’s not much fruit around, but apricots and cherries are some of our favourites, so we’ve filled lots of jars with them already.

We’re also harvesting lots of berries at the moment as well. We don’t bottle these, as they tend to go mushy. But they freeze really well, and we also eat as many as we can while they’re fresh and in season.

 

This is one of our favourite ways to eat them – berry tarts! They are quick, delicious and really easy to make, the whole thing only takes about half an hour from start to finish.

Here’s the recipe to make about 24 tarts:

Gluten free pastry

  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 1/4 cup besan flour
  • knob butter
  • milk

Make pastry your usual way. Roll out, and use a glass or pastry cutter to cut tart-sized rounds. Cook in greased tart tins (like shallow muffin trays) for about 8 mins or until done.

Berry filling

Put about 400g berries in a saucepan, add about 1/2 cup sugar (or enough to sweeten to taste). Cook, stirring all the while until the sugar is completely melted and a syrup is forming. It’s great if some of the berries retain their shape.

In a cup mix 2 heaped tsp cornflour with just enough water to make it liquid. Add to berry mixture, and stir until the cornflour is completely cooked and the mixture starts to thicken. The mixture will go cloudy when you add the cornflour, so keep cooking until it has gone clear again.

Fill pastry cases with berry mixture and set aside to cool and set.

If you’re interested in finding out more about fruit preserving for home use, try Fabulous Fruit Preserving. It includes instructions for how to bottle fruit using equipment found in most home kitchens, as well as details about freezing, jam and dehydrating (and even includes instructions for making your own fruit dehydrator!)