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Apricot Preserves with Vanilla Beans and Gewürztraminer

August 4, 2011


Early Saturday morning Greg and I hit the road and made our way to Michigan in search of fruit–fresh, fresh, fruit. We make the trip every year around this time just as the blueberry season goes into full swing. Two hours later we were headed back to Chicago with eighty pounds of fruit, including thirty pounds of giant blueberries and twenty-five pounds of perfect peaches. The inside of our car smelled like an orchard, and we gorged ourselves on blueberries until we hit the Chicago Skyway.

As we unloaded the car, which of course took several trips (yes, eighty pounds), the reality of my situation began to sink in–my weekend was booked. I would be spending the next two days at the stove hovering over simmering pots of preserves.

I blame Christine Ferber, a.k.a. the Fairy Godmother of Jams and Jellies. Christine’s cookbook, Mes Confitures, arrived two weeks ago, and I have been dreaming of jam since the day I cracked the cover. Alas, my fruity dreams turned into something more accurately described as a long, sweaty nightmare. By Monday, the floor was sticky with sugary syrup, my legs ached, and I had run out of jars, but not out of fruit. In my darkest hour, only one thing kept me going: every batch of jam I made from that damn book was AMAZING!

At last, all our Michigan fruit has been preserved in one way or another. (We froze most of the blueberries.) And all week Greg and I have been sampling jams, jellies, preserves, and conserves at breakfast. After extensive, ahem, testing, two batches of these not-too-sweet vanilla bean scones (our blank canvas), and plenty of oohing and aahing, we are ready to declare our favorites of the season. My new love is the apricot preserves shown here. (Greg’s pick is a peach and almond conserve, which I’ll post next week.) The combination of apricots and vanilla, a combination I’ve never thought to try, is positively addictive. I was making excuses to go to the kitchen just so I could spoon some into my mouth. Classy, eh?

Try this recipe with the freshest apricots you can find, and you’ll be hooked too.

Apricot Preserves with Vanilla Beans and Gewürztraminer

Adapted from Christine Ferber‘s recipe in Mes Confitures.

Ingredients

    3 pounds of apricots (about 2 quarts)
    4 cups granulated sugar
    1 lemon, juice and zest
    1 orange, juice and zest
    2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
    9 ounces dried apricots
    9 ounces Gewürztraminer wine

Preparation

  1. Rinse the apricots. Slice them in half to pit them.
  2. Combine the apricots, sugar, citrus zests and juices, and vanilla beans in a bowl. Refrigerate and let macerate for an hour.
  3. Pour the contents of the bowl into a non-reactive pan and bring to a simmer. Pour back into the bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Cut the dried apricots into little sticks about 1/8-inch wide. Put them in a bowl and cover with the wine. Refrigerate overnight.
  5. The next day, pour the fresh apricot mixture into a sieve. Put the collected syrup and vanilla beans in a large sauce pan and bring it to a gentle simmer. Skim and continue cooking on high heat until concentrated. If you have a candy thermometer, boil until it reaches 221°F. (Christine removes the apricot skins while she is straining them. This will only work if your apricots are very firm. I left the skins on–it saves time and no one that tasted the jam even noticed them.)
  6. Add the re-hydrated apricots and the apricot halves to the syrup. Return to a boil for about ten minutes, stirring gently and skimming if necessary.
  7. Remove the vanilla beans. Cut them into pieces and distribute them among the prepared jelly jars.
  8. Process the jam immediately using your method of choice. If you’re a canning novice, The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great resource: Processing Jams and Jellies.

Makes about 8 cups.



Want more fruity, summery goodness in a jar? Try some Strawberry Jam with Black Pepper and Tarragon or Fig Preserves.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2012 9:25 am

    I’m super excited to try this! Thanks so much for sharing (and I think I’ll be adding Christine’s book to my shelf!)

    • July 18, 2012 1:41 pm

      Elle Bee–I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. And you won’t regret buying Christine’s book. I still have a long list of recipes from it that I’m dying to try this summer.

Trackbacks

  1. Making Man Jam: Peach Ginger and Almond Conserve « Bob Vivant

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