Refined sugar? Bah. Commerical pectin? No way. California lemons? Not here, bub. This preserve is all local, all the time, down to the homemade white wine vinegar and the Rhode Island sea salt. Apricots and plums were purchased from Madura Farms at the Muscoot Farm market, the clover honey is from Rulison Honey Farms in Amsterdam, NY and the apple pectin stock was put up last winter.
I must confess that I am not the biggest apricot fan; although I adore most fruits, something about the musty flavor of apricots throws me off. But the gorgeous quart of them at the Madura Farm stand drew me in, like a moth to the flame, and I knew I would find something to do with them. Apricots and plums are safely acidic to can, and the addition of vinegar and apple pectin adds more acidity, for safety, texture and a tangy boost in flavor. The set on this preserve was surprisingly firm, given the lack of granulated sugar; my pectin stock must be pretty strong. This was one of those recipes that (annoyingly) filled exactly three jars (2 half-pints and 1 quarter-pint) so I haven’t actually tried the preserve yet; I did however, get to sample some leftover sauce and it was quite good. The plums give a nice acidic boost to the apricots, diminishing that musty flavor that I can usually detect, and instead leaving behind a silky, floral, mellow flavor that is only enhanced by the honey. Really rather unique and wonderful. I think apricot season is at the tail end, but if I see more, I may have to make another batch.
- 1 quart (1 and 3/4lb) fresh, ripe yet firm apricots, washed, pitted, and sliced into 8 – 10 pieces each
- 3/4 lb red plums, washed, halved, pitted
- 1/2 cup + 1/8 cup clover honey
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- pinch sea salt
- 1 cup apple pectin stock
- Day 1. Combine apricots, plums, honey, vinegar and salt in a glass or ceramic bowl. Mix well and allow to macerate for 1 – 2 hours at room temperature. Transfer to a large saucepan, bring to a simmer over high heat, then return to bowl and refrigerate, covered, overnight.
- Day 2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Mix well and turn the fruit mixture into a colander to collect the juice. The plums will have softened and mostly dissolved; remove the plum skins (scraping off any flesh still clinging to the skin). Combine the juice and apple pectin stock in a medium stockpot or Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil rapidly, stirring to prevent scorching, until juice thickens to a syrup, forms large bubbles, and the temperature reaches 220 degrees F, about 15 minutes. Add fruit, mix well and return to a boil. Continue to cook until the preserves further reduce, the syrup becomes thicker, and you can scrape a line across the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon (and/or the temperature reaches 220 degrees F), about 10 minutes.
- Fill hot, sterilized jars to 1/2-inch headspace; wipe rims, affix lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Yields about 2 and 1/2 cups.
- You can peel the plums prior to macerating; I find that a lot of the plum flavor is contained in the skin. (Also, I am lazy and it was too hot to bring a big pot of water to a boil). It does seem easier to simply pluck the skins out the next day. Some recipes tell you to remove apricot skins, some do not. I chose to leave them on.
Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year. Refrigerated, use within 3 weeks.