Apricots in Fragrant Syrup. Photo by Ed Anderson.
Why bother preserving your own when you can buy canned fruit in plain sugar syrup? Because you can create a distinctive syrup that shows off the fruit to its best advantage.
Apricots are delicate, and cook quickly. Most recipes call for cooking the fruit too long. To keep their shape, apricot halves should cook for 3 to 5 minutes, while whole apricots need 8 to 10 minutes. You can put the cardamom seeds in a cheesecloth sachet or tea strainer if you don’t want them floating in the syrup, but I don’t mind biting into them.
Serve these delicious apricots with ice cream, or as a garnish for panna cotta or rice pudding.
Yields 1 quart jar (whole apricots) or 3 half-pint jars (apricot halves).
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1 vanilla bean, cut into thirds
- 3 strips lemon zest
- 1/4 cup thin julienne strips of fresh, young ginger
- 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon
- 2 pounds small, firm apricots,
whole or pitted and halved
- Line a baking sheet with a towel, and place it on the counter near your stove. Set a stockpot on the stove, place the empty jars inside, and fill the stockpot with enough water to cover the jar(s) by 1 to 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, and sterilize the jar(s) by boiling for 10 minutes. Heat the lid(s) in a saucepan of hot water. Leave both in the water to keep warm.
- In a large preserving pot, combine sugar, water, vanilla bean, lemon zest, ginger, and cardamom seeds. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Taste, and add lemon juice, if desired. Simmer until the syrup starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add apricots, and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes for halves or 8 to 10 minutes for whole apricots.
- Set the warm, empty jar(s) on the baking sheet. With a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the fruit to the jar(s).
- Return the syrup to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook until it’s thick. Carefully ladle syrup over the fruit in the jar(s), leaving a 1-inch headspace. Run a chopstick around the inside of the jar(s) to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rim(s) clean, set the lid(s) on the mouth(s) of the jar(s), and twist on the ring(s).
- Bring the water in the stockpot back to a boil. Using a jar lifter, lower the filled jar(s) into the pot. When the water boils, reduce the heat to an active simmer, and process for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jar(s) in the water for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Using the jar lifter, transfer the jar(s) to the baking sheet, and set aside for at least 6 hours, or until cool enough to handle. Check to be sure the jar(s) sealed. Label the jar(s), and store the sealed preserves for up to 2 years. Once open, store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
- Use orange zest instead of lemon.
- Add a few tablespoons of orange-flower water.
For more flavorful recipes, visit Preserving Fresh Fruit.
Reprinted with permission from Jam Session by Joyce Goldstein ©2018, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.