Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Adventures in Homemaking: Apricot Jam

My funny daughter posing with the apricots pre-puree
It was a beautiful Monday morning. I went to a neighbor's house to pick apricots, stopped at another neighbor's house to pick up two boxes of apricots that were slightly over-ripe, and settled into the kitchen to make jam. 8 hours later, my back hurt, my feet hurt, and I'd been to the store twice for sugar and pectin. Sheeeeeesh. But the jam tastes yummy. And I got a TON of it.
I tried to follow a pair of recipes I found on the web, but neither of them mentioned when to add the called-for lemon juice. So I made the first two without it, then went back and and re-cooked it, adding the lemon juice afterwards and reprocessing the jars. I hope they come out okay...

The remaining batches didn't get that mistake. However, the low-sugar pectin I used for them confuddled me. (That's a word, right?) It took a while to figure out the balance of the ingredients and the cooking adjustments... but I think I got it.

In the meantime, I made a slightly cluttered kitchen into an apricot-colored and -scented disaster, had a large container full of pits, and an even larger box of not-quite-ripe apricots left waiting to ripen. I also had two large freezer bags full of non-jammed 'cots. I had run out of steam and it was time to stop cooking.

The interesting thing is recognizing that, though I've never made cooked jam before, I used to be quite comfortable in the kitchen, taking naturally to new recipes and having a lot less problems than I had that day. I guess I'm not a part-time homemaker, and I haven't done much cooking in the last year. It's fascinating, really, how fast even our talents fade when they aren't exercised. I'll be practicing more in the future, I think. I hate to lose something I enjoy so much. I miss cooking and baking for my family. It's time to get back to it. :)

In the meantime, I have jars and jars of apricot jam to get me through the winter. As long as I have english muffins to enjoy it with.
And buckets of apricots!
Meanwhile, daughter is dipping bananas in chocolate for later.
Puree in the pot. I was very overheated by the end... 

Almost there...
A bit smoother and thicker than I intended... but delicious!

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