Imagine my surprise back from holidays and seeing this last crate of blushing apricots just waiting to be pounced on. I thought the apricot season would be over but here they were, pride of place, looking up at me at the market with a sign announcing they were jam apricots. It didn’t take much convincing to make a batch of my all-time favourite apricot jam.
Buzzing merrily, bees are currently feasting on our lavender next to the back door. The aromas remind me of the heady lavender fields in Provence at this time of year. My lucky daughters are seeing them soon enough when they stay with their French grandparents next week – there’s even a lavender distillery nearby. As you can imagine, the girls are buzzing with excitement at the thought of hot, sticky days ahead of them.
When they return to school in September, they are all too familiar with the smell of lavender due to the occasional bout of nits (les poux!) that hit the primary school: by dabbing a drop of lavender oil behind their ears they smell of Provence but nits hate the ‘heady’ smell and leave my girlies alone.
I much prefer to use lavender from the garden to add a special touch to this apricot jam. It’s a real winter treat to open up a jar of golden sunshine and smother it on slices of brioche for breakfast. My girls have this theory that if they write the jam labels, they’re entitled to more of the jar’s contents.
As I prefer to use half the sugar of the classic recipe, the jam doesn’t last as long as the classic. In our house, this is never a problem as it’s is consumed pretty quickly on crêpes, waffles, warmed as a sauce on nougat ice cream, as a glaze or simply eaten by the spoon! The addition of butter is my mother-in-law’s little secret to avoid too much scum floating to the top during the jam-making process.
Apricot and Lavender Jam
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 8-10 hours
Cooking Time: approx. 1 hour
1 kg apricots, washed and cut in 2 (stones removed)
500g granulated sugar with added pectin (jam-making sugar)
juice of a lemon
2 fresh lavender flowers (or 2 tsps dried lavender in a tea infuser)
knob of butter
- Mix together the above ingredients (except the butter) in a large bowl and leave to infuse overnight or 8-10 hours.
- Remove the full lavender flowers or the tea strainer with the dried lavender.
- In a heavy high-sided pot (as I use induction heat, but traditionally – if you can – use a copper pot), bring the ingredients to a slow boil over a moderate heat for at least 45 minutes. Stir occasionally using a wooden spoon and add the knob of butter.
- Meanwhile, chill a saucer in the fridge to quicken the setting process.
- Turn down the heat and leave to simmer for another 15 minutes until thickened. Test the jam on the chilled saucer. If it wrinkles, it’s set. If not, then continue to boil the jam and try again.
- Pour into warmed, sterilised jars. Cover with a disc of waxed paper – or parchment paper – and when cooled, tightly close the lids.
Store in a cool place for up to a year. Once opened, store in the fridge.
Plus it goes without saying (ça va sans dire – love that phrase!) that you could fill orange (or purple) shells to make apricot and lavender macarons. The beauty with macarons is that you can make any flavour of your imagination. Be inspired from the recipes in the book and add your own personal touch. Here, I used the filling recipe on page 74 for the liquorice macarons, replacing the 30g of liquorice for the jam.
So here’s my gift to you for all your comments and support over the last few months. Merci beaucoup, my macaronivore friends! Help yourselves; they’re now at room temperature so perfect for eating.
How would you use this jam? Have you tried it warmed and poured over candied fruit ice cream?