The most beautiful rosy apricots show up in our local farmers’ markets from time to time and put the mealy yellow-orange ones to shame. In addition to their rosy hue, these small fruits are juicy, have a smooth texture and an aroma that would make you swoon. With lavender blooming, preserving this moment of summer could offer an almost Proustian memory later on. In the meanwhile, the small batch we kept aside to eat now is magical.
Apricot Lavender Jam
2 lb apricots (1 quart, 16-18 small apricots), slightly under-ripe
2 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
4-5 tsp lavender buds – preferably organic – 1 tsp set aside
Remove the apricot pits and cut the fruit into quarters. Sprinkle on the sugar and lemon juice, and stir to combine. Tie 3-4 tsp lavender buds in a small cheesecloth sack and sink it in the middle of the fruit. Let it macerate for a few hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.
Prepare water bath canner and sterilized jars.
Bring the apricot mixture to a boil in a wide pan, adding ¼ tsp of butter to diminish the foam. Continue to cook, stirring to keep the mixture from scorching, until the gel point is reached. (Test on a chilled saucer. It’s done when a droplet is wrinkly when touched. This sets up when cooled and I have found that cooking to 220 degrees overcooks this particular jam.) Remove the sack of lavender buds and add the reserved teaspoonful.
Ladle the jam into prepared jars, seal and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes after the water comes to a boil. Remove the canner lid, turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the jars to sit undisturbed until they are thoroughly cool. Check the seals before storing.
Makes about 4 half-pints.