Sweet apricot marmalade will forever aspire as one of the most superior jams — even if the claim is only gently encouraged. The apricot (or Armenian plum from its scientific name prunus armeniaca) is from ancient origins, history and lore that date back as far as the 8th–12th century BC, where it appeared as a symbol on the bones of the oracle of the Shang dynasty.
Myths and hearty apricots have an old deal. So for centuries, the first place the scented, fleshy fruit straight to Heaven as “golden apples” –it is said that they were found in abundance on the Holy Land. Hence there are some scholars who support the theory that apricots grew on the Biblical Tree of Knowledge -and not apples-, so Eve was the one who showed Adam “what the apricot was” – which is a Greek phrase meaning “what the truth is”.
In Babylonian legend, after the creation of the world, a hapless moth begged the sun god Samas for dinner. Samas offered apricots so were considered a divine choice as they were golden like him and their fragrance was something only heavenly descendents could describe. Some ancients again believed that the apricot tree was prophetic or at least magical. In China, Confucious collected some of his most important religious texts in an apricot forest, as in Chinese legend, the apricot is one of the 5 famous fruits of the ancient world along with the plum, the peach, the red date (jujube or Ziziphus jujube from the Greek zizifon) and the chestnut. (Nectar and Ambrosia: An Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology, Tamra Andrews, 2000).
The bright apricot marmalade usually comes after the popular strawberry one in terms of flavour preferences. However nothing has to do with the battle of which tastes better. Its rich aroma and heavenly taste makes apricot marmalade so enjoyable and it has a dedicated following.
The early flowering varieties of apricots reflect the ancient name of the fruit praecocia from praecoquus —”cooked or ripened beforehand” (meaning early ripening). This became in Greek πραικόκιον praikókion, in English “apricot” from abrecock (from “abricot“ in Middle French) and “abercoc” in Catalan — but that’s the etymology’s game. First apricots appear in May usually followed by the golden-yellow variety Peche de Nancy in June and July, and then the Louizet, round, firm, scented and hardy sweet apricots of August.
All types of apricot are good for marmalade, however the more aromatic they are, the better the result. In this particular recipe, the total sugar is less than 50% of the fruit weight, the boil time is pretty short and so the marmalade is nicely sweet, very appetizing and with a clear orange-yellow colour. As we wanted the fruit to be obvious and keep its texture (see photo), medium size apricots are cut in half and the larger ones cut into quarters. If you want the marmalade to have a more uniform look and the fruit to be more consolidated, cut them into smaller pieces in the beginning and then squash the fruit in the stirring by pushing them against the sides of the pan with a spoon whilst boiling.
We love homemade jams and we want them to keep their fresh fruity taste and aroma. Most of the recipes are extremely quick aiming not to destroy the fruit and so be more visually appetizing. Stay tuned for the result and other sweet recipes to follow.
apricot marmalade straight from heaven
Preparation: About 10 mins to clean the fruit and another 20 mins for everything else. The apricots should be ripe yet firm. Easy and fast recipe. Thermometer needed.
Ingredients: (for about 1lt marmalade)
1k cleaned apricots
100 ml water
for the finish
80 g sugar
30g dry pectin
juice from 1 lemon (60ml)
To prepare the fruit: Clean and cut open the fruit in the middle by halving, or cut into quarters depending on the size. Remove the stones, the small snout and the darker area (if any) sometimes found on the base of the stem.
Put a small plate in the freezer to use later to check the thickness of the marmalade.
To make the apricot marmalade: In a wide, preferably heavy bottom pan and medium heat, add the sugar and water and stir whilst heating until you have a normal syrup. Add the apricots, stir well and cover the pan. Boil on medium to low heat for 10 mins (time from the start of the boiling), stirring 2-3 times.
Uncover, stir and skim if needed. Measure the temperature. As soon as it reaches 100 deg C (2-3 minutes), add the rest of the sugar that has been mixed with the pectin, then add the lemon juice. Boil for another 2-3 mins and remove from heat.
To test: Take the frozen plate and plop a small spoon of the marmalade at the centre. Let it sit for almost a minute and see if it forms a surface skin and develops a certain solidity. Use the spoon to ‘draw’ a clear line. If so, it is ready. Try the marmalade – yummy 😉
Storing: Leave to cool then transfer to sterilised jars. Store in a cool place.
Note: The simple method to sterilise clean jars is to put them up to their neck in a pan with boiling water and boil for a few minutes. Alternatively put them in the oven at 100 C for 20 mins.
Serving: Bread and butter, croissant, yoghurt, cheese, cold meat cuts, sweet quiches and tarts such as pasta flora. Everything goes with apricot marmalade. It’s impossible not to like it!