When I was in high school, I was one of the most organized kids around. I was never late with a home work assignment, managed to juggle a slew of student council activities, act in school plays and still have time for hanging out with friends.
These days, I feel like I exert twice as much energy for half as much coordination. I do realize that there are far more moving pieces in my life these days (in high school, I wasn’t responsible for so many of the household tasks that now fill my brain), but I often wish I could recover some of the boundless energy I once had for pulling loose ends into neat bundles.
Here’s an example of my organizational struggle. In the fall of 2010, the publicity manager for Robert Rose publishing sent me a handful of books that she thought might be appropriate for this site. I worked a couple of the volumes into blog posts and set aside the copy of 250 Home Preserving Favorites by Yvonne Tremblay for future blogging. My plan was to spend some serious time with it and devote a post to it. Instead, I misplaced it. It totally disappeared from the landscape of the apartment.
Nearly a year later, I got an email from Yvonne, the author of 250 Home Preserving Favorites. Not knowing that I’d gotten and lost a copy of her book, she was writing to find out if I’d be interested in seeing a copy for possible inclusion in a blog post.
Both Yvonne and Martine (the PR contact from Robert Rose) forgave me my disorganization and sent another copy of the book. Six months ago. My 16 year old self would have been far more on top of it.
Now it’s time to make amends to Yvonne and Martine and get my act together in order to tell you all about this most excellent book. It’s a comprehensive volume dedicated primarily to sweet preserves (there’s a section of tangy chutneys near the back that keep it from being entirely sweet). I regularly flip through it looking for inspiration and it’s never failed to spark an idea that sends me dashing to the kitchen.
I recently took the recipe for Dried Apricot Jam for a spin and was entirely pleased with the results. The finished product is deeply flavored, with a texture that is somewhere between a jam and a marmalade.
I cut the batch in half to keep things manageable and it adapted easily. I’m so happy to have been introduced to the concept of making jam from dried fruit (it’s not something I’d really considered until finding this recipe).
It’s also the perfect thing for those of you out there who are anxious for the canning season to get under way. A jam made from dried fruit is just the kind of thing to keep you satisfied until the spring produce starts to get going.
Here’s how it works. Chop up 8 ounces of dried apricots, place them in a bowl and cover them with 2 3/4 cups filtered water. Cover the bowl with a plate or a length of plastic wrap and let it sit overnight. The next day, the apricot pieces should be nicely plump.
When you’re ready to cook the jam, pour the soaked apricots into a large, non-reactive pot with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Once the apricots are quite tender, raise the heat and stream in 2 1/2 cups of granulated white sugar and 1 teaspoon good vanilla extract (I used vanilla instead of the recommended liqueur). Bring to a boil and cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced and the jam has become quite thick and sticky. When it passes the plate test, it is done.
Funnel jam into prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes. When time is up, remove jars from canner and let them cool on a folded kitchen towel. Once jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated promptly. Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
For more inspired recipes like this one, make sure to check out 250 Home Preserving Favorites.