This giveaway is now closed — but the recipe for honeyed apricots (below) is great!
The first person to cook an apricot sure did stumble on something great. I don’t know how you feel about it, but most apricots eaten out of hand don’t knock me out — not the way that the perfectly sweet pucker of a fresh Santa Rosa plum does, or the ruby-red bliss of a sun ripened pluot. Even the Blenheim apricot, the funny, freckled star of California apricots, doesn’t honor you with the fullness of its flavor until you give it just a little bit of heat.
All this is to say that, IMHO, apricots live to be preserves.
If you’ve still got access to apricots where you are (we’ll have them here for a couple more weeks), please do celebrate summer by putting up some simple apricot jam. And while you’re at it, set aside a few pounds to make these honeyed apricots from Marisa McClellan’s luscious and loveable new cookbook, appropriately titled Food in Jars.
I call the book luscious because it feels great in the hands and it’s more than easy on the eyes — the photography and even the typography are delightful gateways to recipe after recipe you’ll want to try. Not only is there that recipe for simple apricot jam, but think about vanilla rhubarb jam infused with earl grey tea, nectarine lime jam, orange vanilla curd, and new experiments with old traditions, like grape ketchup! Staying true to the name, Marisa also offers an array of recipes for jar-friendly foods that we don’t have to can, such as granola, pancake mix, and flavored salts.
I call the book loveable because it is thoroughly steeped in Marisa’s warm presence. Wait, here she is . . .
A couple weeks ago, when Marisa was in the Bay Area on the West Coast leg of her book tour, we got to have lunch and hang out for a bit. It doesn’t surprise me that we ended up at the Berkeley Bowl Marketplace, shopping for apricots! (Actually, she got the apricots for a class she was teaching that night. I bought a case of rhubarb that day and caught up with my own apricots just this week.)
My very favorite thing about the Food in Jars cookbook is Marisa’s voice — the voice of experience, clarity, and generosity that we’ve come to know so well and appreciate so much on her Food in Jars blog. In the book, she’s right there for us every step of the way, reminding us that good preserves can be made with a lot of love and minimal fuss.
Just below, you’ll find Marisa’s recipe for honeyed apricots, as it is written in her book. You can make these treats in an hour and enjoy them all winter long. They’re a wonderful topping for yogurt and whatnot, but I also think that a single honeyed apricot placed in a small bowl and eaten with a small spoon makes a perfect dessert. Too, if you’re looking for preserves recipes that don’t use refined sugar, you’ll want to add this one to your list. When I made these apricots, I deviated from the recipe in just one way: I added 3/4 teaspoon of ascorbic acid (that’s Vitamin C powder) to the syrup for a little bit of tartness and to help preserve the color of the apricots over time. (I’ve been adding ascorbic acid and/or citric acid to some of my lower-sugar preserves this summer. It’s an experiment.) I love them.
Finally, I’m thrilled to be able to help celebrate the release of the Food in Jars cookbook by giving a copy to one of you, courtesy of Running Press.
To win a copy of Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, leave a comment below and tell me something, anything, about apricots. Do you like them best eaten out of hand or do you, like me, think they’re best when warmed or cooked? What’s your favorite way to prepare them? Any interesting things you’ve learned about them? Your first apricot memory? Anything! I’ll choose an entry at random one week from today — that’s Tuesday, July 10 — at 8 p.m. Good luck!
From Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round
Makes 4 pints
1 1/4 cups/300ml honey
4 pounds/1.8kg ripe apricots
Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 regular-mouth 1-pint/500ml jars. Place the lids in a small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over very low heat.
In a medium saucepan, combine the honey with 3 cups/720ml water and bring to a simmer.
Wash and thoroughly dry the apricots, cut them in half, and remove the pits. Tightly pack the apricot halves, cut-side down, into the prepared jars.
When all the apricots are in the jars, ladle the hot syrup over them, leaving 1/2 inch/12mm of headspace.
Gently tap the jars on a towel-lined countertop to help loosen any bubbles before using a wooden chopstick to dislodge any remaining bubbles and add additional syrup, if necessary.
Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.*
*Of course, Marisa’s book contains detailed instructions for preparing and processing jars in a boiling water bath canner.
Giveaway Results: July 11, 2012
Congratulations to Barbara G., who won a copy of Food in Jars!
I’ll be in touch by email so I can send your book. Meanwhile, be assured that you are not alone. There were other comments from readers who have never eaten an apricot, or who had just eaten their first apricot, or who have never eaten one fresh. Also lots of great ideas for preparing apricots. One of my favorite things about giveaways is that they are an opportunity to bring out people’s stories and experiences. Thanks to everyone who commented and shared!