A couple of weeks ago, I helped plan and cater a bridal shower for two of my dear friends. It was an intimate affair, attended mostly by family and held at my home. We gathered flowers from Russo’s and created a make-ahead menu using many of the recipes I’ve featured on this blog, including gravlax, Israeli couscous salad and strawberry basil lemonade.
But not all of the food we made was to be eaten that day. The highlight was the favor we gifted the guests: an adorable little mason jar of homemade jam. If you’ve never made jam to give as a gift before, you should know that the time and effort is minimal, especially given the appreciation by its recipients. And since we riffed on a recipe from one of our favorite jam cookbooks, we’re calling it the bride’s “something borrowed.”
Slightly amended from “The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook” by Rachel Saunders
Makes about 5 cups
If you want to sterilize the finished jars of jam, this is a good introduction. Rosewater is strong, so add it in small amounts if you decide you want more than the specified amount.
5¼ pounds pitted and quartered apricots, pits reserved
2¼ pounds granulated sugar
3 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosewater
½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1. DAY 1: In a large bowl, combine the apricots with the sugar and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture, smoothing well to eliminate air bubbles. Cover the mixture tightly with a lid and let macerate in the refrigerator overnight.
2. DAY 2: Place a metal spoon in a flat place in your freezer for testing the jam later.
3. Remove the apricots from the refrigerator and transfer them to a large Dutch oven or heavy pot. Bring the apricot mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently with a large heatproof rubber spatula. Boil, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and skim the stiff foam from the top of the mixture and discard.
4. Return the jam to a boil, then decrease the heat slightly. Continue to cook, monitoring the heat closely, until the jam thickens, about 30 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pan often with your spatula, and decrease the heat gradually as more and more moisture cooks out of the jam. For the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking, stir the jam slowly and steadily to keep it from scorching.
5. When the jam has thickened, test it for doneness. To test, carefully transfer a half teaspoonful of jam to your frozen spoon. Replace the spoon in the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes. Tilt the spoon vertically to see how quickly the jam runs. If it runs very slowly and has thickened to a very viscous consistency, it’s done. If it runs quickly or appears watery, cook it for another few minutes before testing again.
6. Turn off the heat, but do not stir. Using a stainless-steel soup spoon, skim all of the remaining foam and discard. Add rosewater and almond extract (if using) to the pot, stir well and taste. Add more of each, as needed. Transfer jam to jars with tight-fitting lids, let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate.