Apricot preserves are my favorite to make. I find apricots easy to work with: you don’t have to peel them, the pits/kernels come out easily, and they’re juicy and sweet but not particularly messy. Ideal! I tend to buy a case each summer when I find one for a reasonable price; this year, I waited a little too long and only found a half case (10 lbs.), but the fruit was glorious. Fragrant, flavorful, beautiful, unblemished– I only had to decide which jams to make.
In the past, successful apricot preserves have had additions of vanilla bean, lavender, almond liqueur, habanero pepper, orange blossom water or lemon verbena, or have been left plain. This year, I made a batch of plain, some with chamomile and rose as a variation on the floral accents I like so much with apricots, and this gorgeous jam with fresh raspberries and Chambord. The color may be the best part. It is bright tangerine orange, studded with rosy berries, sweet and good. I purposefully waited until the jam was nearly ready to jar before adding the raspberries; I wanted to see the berries studded in the apricot jam rather than have a homogeneous mixture. Though I often use liqueurs as an optional ingredient and suggest replacement options, I am not going to do so here. The Chambord rounds out the flavor and highlights the raspberries without overwhelming the delicate apricots. The jam will be good, but not the same, if you leave it out. And this is a jam worth trying– I would have to say it’s one of the more sophisticated jams I’ve made, as stunning in the jar as it is complex when tasted.
Could you mix the berries in with the apricots right from the beginning? Absolutely. The fruit will break down some no matter what you do. Should you get a few pounds of apricots and make some of this jam this summer? Absolutely. Your family, friends and taste buds will thank you for the effort.
Apricot Jam with Raspberries & Chambord (makes about 6 half-pints)
- 6 c. apricots pieces (about 3 lbs. whole fruit)
- 2 c. sugar, divided
- juice of half a lemon (at least 3 T.)
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1 tsp. butter (optional)
- 1 c. fresh raspberries
- 2 T. Chambord*
Day 1: Combine the cut apricots, 1 c. sugar and lemon juice in a non-reactive container. Cover tightly and macerate overnight (or as long as 3 days) in the refrigerator. I do not recommend skipping this step.
Day 2, or when you’re ready to cook: Clean your jars and start your water bath. Transfer the macerated apricots to a large jam pan or Dutch oven, making sure to get all the juice and any undissolved sugar as well; add the additional cup of sugar, salt and butter, if using. (Butter helps to cut down on foam accumulating on top of the boiling fruit.) Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the jam is almost done. For me, that means the bubbles are “lazy” and less frequent, the surface of the jam appears glossy and the consistency is noticeably thicker. If you hold up a spoonful of jam, it should drip off slowly in a thick sheet instead of quickly in drops. Cooking times vary depending on weather, stoves, pans, etc., but expect at least 15 mins. and very possibly longer. Add the raspberries and continue to stir, being careful not to break up the berries any more than they will anyway. Cook for another few minutes; add the Chambord, stir and remove from the heat.
Ladle the hot jam into hot, sterilized jars; wipe the rim of each jar carefully and affix the lids. Process the jars in a water bath for 10 mins.; remove to a clear, towel-lined counter and allow to sit untouched overnight. Check that each jar is sealed; refrigerate unsealed jars immediately. Properly sealed jars will keep in a cool, dark cupboard for up to a year.
This is intended to be a loose-set jam. If you’d like a firmer consistency, there are instructions in the Pomona’s pectin box for adding some to any fruit jam.
*Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur that should be readily available wherever spirits are sold. I’ve even recently seen “travel” bottles with just a little more than what you would need for this recipe– though by all means spring for a larger size. You could make some truffles, too.