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Apricots, sugar and lots of stirring makes tasty jam

Someone in my home has jam envy. And it's not me.

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There was a night when I was out of town and Danny stayed up stirring until he ended up with eight large jars of strawberry-rhubarb jam, except that this batch never quite thickened. We forgot about jam for a while. But June brought apricots, and now there's a batch of my jam in the fridge. It's been a part of breakfast (and dessert) ever since.

He should be jealous. David Tanis, chef and columnist, says apricots make the "cat's meow" of jam. The jam against which all others should be measured. I got it right on my first try. You will, too.

Tanis is all about eating real food when it's in season, and you should find apricots at least through this month. I've done a quick roast of them and served them for breakfast with yogurt, but this jam is my favorite. The recipe comes from his cookbook, Heart of the Artichoke. This book is organized into seasonal menus, but it starts off with his kitchen rituals, which are essentially simple pleasures of the everyday kitchen. Peeling an apple. Making morning oatmeal. Beans on toast. And knowing how to make a little jam.

Tanis makes it easy to follow along. The jam is sweet and tart, like a perfectly ripe apricot. The taste alone won us over, but the color remains a brilliant shade of orange and for me, that seals the deal.

Spread it generously on a slice of buttered toast or swirl it into oatmeal. My next batch may end up pressed into the center of thumbprint cookies. Or I might try infusing the jam with herbs or vanilla. This jam will become a kitchen ritual for us.

Ileana Morales is a writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with boyfriend Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen adventures, visit Ileana's blog, alittlesaffron.com. She can be reached at alittlesaffron@gmail.com.

>>Easy

Apricot Jam

2 cups fresh apricots

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

Bread and butter, for serving

Halve the apricots and discard the pits. Place the apricots in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed pot. Bury the apricots in sugar, stirring them around to moisten the sugar. Bring the heat to medium-low and stir in ½ cup water. Turn the heat up to medium once the sugar is completely moistened with the water.

Bubbles will start to form from the center of the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the apricots break down into a jam and it coats the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes.

Take the pot off the heat, cover and let cool overnight at room temperature. In the morning, if the jam looks a bit thin, place it back on the stove for about 15 minutes. If the jam is too thick, add a bit of water and simmer until it looks right. If it looks good, spread the jam on buttered toast. Ladle the rest of the jam into clean jars with tight lids and refrigerate.

Makes about 22 ounces of jam. (This jam is best eaten the week it's made.) The recipe also works for blackberries and figs.

Source: Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis

Apricots, sugar and lots of stirring makes tasty jam 07/02/13 [Last modified: Monday, July 1, 2013 5:00pm]
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