The other day I spent hours working on an apricot thing that turned out terribly. It happens to everyone with a recipe blog: You get what you think is a great idea — in this case it was sugar-free vanilla apricot butter made in a slow cooker — and you launch into your preparations with tremendous enthusiasm, all the while writing the blog post in your head, describing how it felt to make it and how great it turned out. Then you get to the finished product and you’re like, wow, this really sucks.
A number of things went wrong with my slow-cooker butter; mostly it just cooked too long. The fruit darkened and caramelized in a an ugly, bitter way. I tried to rescue it at the end with some honey, but it was way too late. It was a sad end to five pounds of beautiful Blenheim apricots, for sure. And I felt pretty silly about the time I’d wasted describing it to you in my head.
That same day, however, my friend Gina had brought me two big boxes of apricots from a backyard tree. I don’t know what kind they were. The good kind. But they were starting to collapse on themselves, so I got right to breaking them down, cutting away bruised parts and setting aside clean halves to make another batch of Marisa’s Honeyed Apricots. (I have a case of those now, which I’ll use during the coming year to make jams like this Honey-Sweetened Apricot Blueberry Jam.)
Because I ran out of regular pint jars in the middle of all that, I had some fruit and honey syrup left over. So, after taking all day to make something godawful, I dropped those leftovers in a pot and made something perfect in twenty minutes. This is crazy easy to prepare and it’s one of those things worth eating straight from the jar.
Honey-Sweetened Apricot Jam
Makes about two cups
1 1/4 pounds pitted, quartered apricots (weight after pitting)
1/2 cup filtered water
1/4 cup wildflower honey
1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Combine the water and honey in a medium saucepot and bring to a simmer to make syrup. Add the apricots and lemon juice and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking or scorching. (Turn down the heat if necessary.) The jam is ready when it starts to mound up and your spoon leaves a clear track across the bottom of the pot. As mentioned, mine took about 20 minutes. It’s a tiny batch, so just jar it and store it in the fridge. Without sugar, it probably won’t last for more than a couple of weeks, but I don’t know for sure because mine was eaten up within a few days.
Here’s the first apricot picked from my own tree. It took three years! She says, “So what? Aren’t I worth it?”