Prepared with just three ingredients, my apricot jam recipe is bursting with summertime fruity flavour and is sure to become a staple in your fridge as well!
Every summer, my family and I visit farms and farmers markets to load up on fresh fruits and vegetables. When apricots and berries are in abundance, we make large batches of jam that get us through the winter.
Apricots remind me of summer in Syria where you can find an apricot tree in nearly family's yard. I love their mildly sweet flavour. I love how the stones (pits) come out with very little effort and the fact that I don't have to peel them to make this jam.
My recipe below requires only three ingredients and doesn't need to be canned. It can last in your fridge for months... if it can last that long!
How to make apricot jam
Making apricot jam is actually quite simple and doesn't require any special equipment or ingredients. Toss apricots, sugar and water into a large pot and simmer until the fruit has broken down. At the end of the cooking process, add some lemon juice and allow to cool before transferring to a storage container (can or Tupperware). That's it!
Before you run off to the grocery store to purchase kilos of your favourite fruit, there are a few things you should know to ensure you cook up a successful batch of jam. Let's take a brief look at the ingredients and the science behind cooking successful jam.
When making jam, knowing which ingredients are best is the first step in achieving successful jam.
Apricots: When apricots are in season, my family likes to buy bushels of them in farmer’s markets. When making jam, some people assume that adding lots of sugar will turn unripe fruit sweet. That's not true. Jam made with unripe fruit will be overly sweet and wont have much fruity flavour. Always select well-ripened fruit. Avoid overripe fruit as the pectin breaks down as the fruit ripens and you'll need to add pectin to form the bonds we will discuss below. You'll need five cups of fresh apricots, but the amount can be adjusted to make more or less depending on how many apricots you have.
Sugar: Use granulated white, cane or brown sugar. Although I've never worked with jam sugar, I've heard that it's a good sugar blend to use, but keep in mind that it is blended with pectin already. You can use sugar substitutes such as stevia; however, keep in mind that since granulated sugar is a preservative, using anything else will severely limit the jam's shelf life.
Avoid using fine and powdered sugars, as those can affect the consistency of the jam.
Lemon juice: The lemon juice we will add at the end of the cooking process is such a miniscule amount compared to the abundance of sugar, that it doesn't add any sour flavour to the jam. Rather, we rely on the acidity of the lemon to promote the formation of pectin in the jam, resulting in a "jelly" texture. The science behind using acid is too complex for me to explain here, but we want to ensure that the pectin binds otherwise we'll end up with a liquid mess. Use the juice of one lemon for every two kilos of sugar, thereby eliminating the need for more pectin.
What is pectin?
Pectin is a naturally occurring carbohydrate found in fruit's skin and core that helps form the cell walls that make up the fruit. When cooked, acid draws pectin out of the fruit and binds with itself, causing a jelly to form. You can purchase powdered pectin in your local grocery store in the baking aisle next to the jams.
Some fruits, like berries, have low pectin, therefore you may need to add powdered pectin during the cooking process to ensure you end up with a thick jam.
When you're working with fruit that has a lot of natural pectin, such as apricots, then you don't need to add any pectin.
The importance of sugar in jam
Sugar is essential for successful jam-making and its role extends beyond that of a sweetener. The amount of sugar we will use in this recipe is essential to its success. Cutting down on the sugar means your jam will be more of a syrup. Sugar acts as a preserving agent and extends the life of the jam.
Most fruits contain about 90% water. When sugar is added to fruits, an interesting chemical reaction happens. The sugar draws out the water from the fruit and binds with the water molecules. The resulting bind is so strong that it doesn't allow for the growth of microorganisms, thus acting as a preservative.
Fruits with low pectin levels, such as berries, will require more sugar. Some jam recipes even call of a 1:1.5 ratio of fruit to sugar.
Believe it or not, jam doesn't have to be canned. You can actually store jam in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one year.
Yes. Sugar is essential to successful jam-making.
If properly sealed, the jam should last a year or more in your pantry. In the fridge, the jam can last up to six months in a plastic container. Just be sure to use a clean, dry spoon and scoop out the desired amount onto a plate. Double-dipping your spoon could contaminate the jam and allow mold to form.
I don't peel the apricots because I like a little bit of texture in my jams. If you want a completely smooth jam, you can peel them.
Some people will use a potato masher to mash the fruit, but its not necessary.
Easy Homemade No Pectin Apricot Jam
- 2 lbs apricots pitted and halved
- 1¾ lbs granulated sugar
- 1 litre water
- juice of one lemon
- Rinse the apricots. Using your hands, open each apricot at the seam and remove the pits. You can chop the fruit if you like, but it's not necessary.
- In a large pot, add sugar and water and bring to a roiling boil.
- When all the sugar has melted, carefully add apricots a little at a time. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1½ hours. Keep an eye on the jam as it has a tendency to overflow.
- When the cooking process is done, add the lemon juice, stir turn off the heat.
- Allow the jam to cool for about 24 hours to allow it so set.
- If you're making refrigerator jam, you can transfer the cooled jam directly into jars or plastic containers and store in the fridge. For long-term storage, I recommend canning them.
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