Sweet gifts certain to impress
IHAVE been a kitchen captive lately, making preserves of various types while the gorgeous summer fruit is in season – and boy, do people love receiving them as gifts. I’ve weaseled my way into several groups since moving to my new home by handing relish and pickles over the fence. I also truly enjoy keeping alive the old tradition of preserving.
It’s not difficult to preserve fruit and veg but there are rules. Jars and lids must be sterilised (see below), and filled and sealed while jars and contents are hot.
As always, be careful. Boiling sugar is hotter than boiling water and you can sustain a painful burn. Kids and pets should be banned from the kitchen to avoid nasty accidents.
French apricot jam
Makes 8x300ml jars
INGREDIENTS: 3kg apricots 2.5kg sugar juice of a lemon 2 pouches pectin (I use Jamsetta) 2 tsp vanilla paste 100ml brandy
METHOD: Halve apricots and remove stones, cut each half into six. Place cut fruit into a plastic container along with the sugar and lemon juice; shake to distribute the sugar and fruit.
Place the fruit and sugar in a large saucepan. Place the pan over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves fully. When the fruit reaches a boil, reduce heat slightly and cook for 6-8 minutes, skimming the pot to remove scum. Don’t leave the pot unattended, and stir carefully every few minutes to ensure the mixture doesn’t burn.
Stir in the pectin and return to the boil; cook for another three minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla paste and brandy; be careful as the jam may spit. Ladle into hot sterilised jars and seal while still hot. Refrigerate after opening.
TO STERILISE JARS: Preheat oven to 100 degrees. Placed washed jars on an oven tray and place in oven for 10 minutes. Place lids in a large bowl and cover with boiling water for a minute.
Enjoy the flavour of summer fruits all year round with apricot jam.