Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mrs Robertson's apricot jam

I don't like jam that is too sweet. And I do like jam for breakfast, on a piece of toast, or fresh baguette, or soft croissant. With proper coffee, and a Fenchman. Yum.

I feel a bit funny sending Mrs Robertson's jam into the cybersphere. She was a very old lady when I knew her, as a little girl, with lots of waved white hair, and a noble, hooked nose. She was tall and angular. I think she must have been formidable. My mother took communion to her because she couldn't get to the cathedral, in Bloemfontein. She was one of my mom's "old ladies". And this is her jam, as written by my mom; it is very good:

First make sure you have slightly under-ripe apricots.
For 1 lb of fruit you need 3/4lb sugar [for 5 lbs of fruit I used 3 3/4lb sugar].
Stone the fruit. Keep some stones to add their kernels later.
Keep in halves or cut in quarters.
Put in bowl [or pot you will cook in] and pour the sugar over. Cover and leave overnight.
Next day, the sugar will have drawn the juice out.
Stir gently. Cook at medium heat until sugar has dissolved [and the jam is lightly bubbling].
[Skim off the scum that will rize to the surface. There may be a lot.]
Add the juice of a lemon [I added two], to help it set.
Crack some of the stones and blanch the kernels.
These "nuts" are added just before the jam is ready.
It is ready when two drops, instead of one, form on the edge of a spoon.
[My 5lbs of fruit made 7 big jars of jam]

Sterilize the jars beforehand by putting them in a 300'F oven for 20 minutes. When the jars and jam are cool pour into the jars and pour a little whiskey or brandy on top [a very little - and I soak my lids in whiskey or brandy or...see below]. Cut out wax paper circles and soak them in the whisky or brandy, too, and close lids with papers between jar and lid.

Taking hot sterilized jar from oven.

So I used Tequila for the lids. It's the 40% proof that matters!

This is how the apricots look after an overnight sugar bath. There is no water. That is just juice.

After coming to the boil a lot of scum rizes. Skim it all off. Test the jam often with a spoon dipped in and held sideways. At first the drips will pour off in a single stream. Later they will be a little slower and two drips will form at each side (one drip per side) and travel to the middle. Then it's ready. Whip it off the heat. Overcooked jam has a sweeter, less fruity taste.

Cooling, after the kernels have been added. They add a slightly bitter taste, almost imperceptable. Cyanide, yum.





  1. I get confused by all the stones and kernels but the jars look like lickable candles... :-)

  2. Coffee and a Fenchman? If you don't have a Fenchman handy, can you use a French one?

  3. Frenchman-schmenshman, what you need are some scones.

  4. Beence: Lickable candles. Hm. We're about to put the awful scented candle business out of of...business.

    Sigrid...use a French one what?

    Thew - would that be the American or English sort? Scones, I mean.

  5. Oh, and PS, I'll take a Frenchman over a scone ANY day, :-)


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