Fresh apricot jam is one of my favourite jams because its flavour and aroma are exactly what I imagine summer to taste and smell like: bright, sweet, yet slightly tangy, fruity but also slightly floral – especially with the addition of some vanilla. It’s great spread on a nice piece of toasted crusty bread, swirled into thick yoghurt, or as a condiment as part of a cheeseboard. It’s also famously used to add a tasty glossy glaze to fruit cakes and pies and does surprisingly well as a refreshing fruity filling sandwiched between two soft layers of dark chocolate cake.
Ideally, to make jam, you will want to select fruits that are perfectly ripe and aromatic, yet not too ripe and juicy. But we all know those are not always easy to come by, neither are those necessarily the fruits you have left over to use for jam-making. I was recently gifted a large bag filled with apricots of various stages of ripeness and after eating all the perfect ones I just couldn’t eat the rest of them before they would go off… which is why I ended up making this post. Turns out, using a combination of overripe or bruised and unripe fruits – those fruits that are a bit less nice to be eaten as they are – makes a great jam as well. While overripe fruits might be a little too soft and juicy (though fragrant and flavourful) to make a well-set jam, adding some slightly unripe fruits (and lemon) may help set the jam a little better.
For this recipe, I do not add extra powdered pectin nor do I add as much sugar as some jam recipes might ask for, and apricots naturally do not contain a lot of pectin anyway, so you may still end up with a jam that is only softly set (which I don’t mind). Should you end up with a jam that really is not setting and is too liquid to your liking, you can of course add some powdered pectin or extra sugar (up to a 1:1 ratio of sugar and fruit).
Easy Homemade Fresh Apricot Jam with Vanilla
- 1.2kg fresh apricots, weight is for whole fruits, you will end up with about 1kg after cleaning
- 650g white crystalized sugar
- pinch of salt
- 50ml lemon juice + a strip of the zest
- 1 vanilla bean
- sterilised jar(s)
MethodPrepare few hours or a day ahead:
- Wash apricots, quarter them and remove stones.
- Macerate the fruit: In a non-reactive pot or bowl, place apricots, sugar, lemon juice, and a good pinch of salt. Mix and squish ingredients slightly with your hands, cover bowl and allow to sit for a minimum of 3 hours, or overnight until fruits start to soften and/or release juice (if your house is very hot, consider refrigerating).
- Once the fruits have released their juices, place pot over medium-high heat until the mixture starts to foam and/or bubble. Stir minimally and lower heat if necessary to avoid burning. If your fruits don't release enough juice, add just enough water to avoid them from burning but not too much.
- Continue boiling for 15 minutes more, skimming off the foam, until the mixture stops foaming as much.
- Slice vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and add both pod and seeds to the apricots. Adding the vanilla after the mixture has stopped foaming as much prevents you from losing the vanilla seeds when skimming off foam.
- Continue boiling until jam looks glossy and starts to thicken (usually another 25 - 30 minutes or so, for a total cooking time between 50 – 60 minutes from start to finish). At this point you want to stir occasionally to avoid the jam from burning.