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).
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.
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.