For three weeks, I’ve gone to the farmers market muttering my annual “fil mish mish.” Literally, that means something like “in the time of the apricots,” or “tomorrow there will be apricots,” which is Egyptian slang for “wishful thinking.” And that’s what it was, wishful thinking that I would find local apricots, that is, until they fleetingly appeared, with stunning raspberries. What a great, Melba-esque combination. Last year, I made Apricot and Sour Cherry Jam, and the year before, Apricot and Red Currant Jam, both as rosy-hued and tangy as this one.
I have a couple of standard steps that I take with apricot jam, but vary it according to the ripeness of the fruit, its companion fruit if there is one, and my time. I typically use under-ripe apricots and kick-start the maceration or initial boil of fruit and sugar by adding a tiny bit of water. This time, the apricots started to soften and were surprisingly juicy (for apricots), so I skipped the water. The apricots were mixed with sugar and lemon juice (plus peel and seeds in a muslin sack) and left to stand for a couple of hours. Since the ripe fruit was collapsing, I brought the whole concoction to a boil, cooled it and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. (This is in contrast with my approach to apricot and currant jam, where large chunks of apricots became suspended in jewel-like liquid because I cooked the liquid and fruit separately. If I’m out of time, I might skip the last step altogether.)
I added the raspberries just before cooking the jam. My raspberries were big and blowsy and therefore not too seedy. If yours are seedy or if you just don’t like seeds in your jam (I like the crunch), puree the raspberries and strain the liquid into the apricots (like I did with the currants)
This was delicious and rather gentle, predictably less strong than the sour cherry version and less tart than the one with red currants.
Apricot and Red Raspberry Jam
2 lb fresh apricots
2 c sugar
Juice of 1 lemon, pits and peel reserved
½ dry pint red raspberries, misted if they seem dusty from the field
Prepare the apricots. Wash them and remove the pits. Cut them into 1/2-inch chunks and place them in a bowl with the sugar and lemon juice. Tie the reserved lemon seeds and peel in a muslin sack (the lemon pits and peel will release their pectin into the fruit to help the jam gel) and immerse it in the apricot mixture. Let the apricots macerate at room temperature for an hour or two, stirring occasionally to make sure that the sugar is dissolving. Place the apricots and their liquid to a saucepan and bring to a bare simmer. Pour the mixture into the apricot bowl. Let cool and then sit for about 6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator, covered with a crinkled piece of parchment paper (and plastic film if your fridge had odors from other food).
When ready to make the jam, prepare the canner, jars and lids if you’re going to process them via water bath. Place a saucer into the freezer for testing the gel
Place the apricot mixture and the raspberries in a wide saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until the liquid tests for gel when a drop is placed on the frozen saucer. Do not overcook. Apricots foam a lot so you can add a dab of butter to the pot to control that, or plan on skimming the finished preserves before jarring them. Depending on the firmness of the fruit, the mixture might be smooth or chunky. If you want a smooth jam, use an immersion blender or whisk to break up any chunks
Ladle into hot prepared jars and cap them with two-part lids. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Turn off the heat, remove the canner lid and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove to a counter to sit undisturbed until completely cool.
Makes about 6 four-ounce jars.