I have been loving my summer. We haven't done anything fun yet (though my kids sure have) but I'm just enjoying hiding out, taking a break from coordinating things, and the sound of the fan. We are having a real summer in the Pacific Northwest.
And I've been rescuing soft fruit from the counter, making one-jar batches of apricot, strawberry, and blueberry jam. No canning equipment, no all-day, sweat-soaked slog, no frantic rushing around.
If there's anything I've earnestly wanted to learn in the past decade, it's this idea that "Good enough is good enough." Settling into myself, embracing what is instead of what could be. One quick jar of jam provides just as much flavor and pleasure as the 20 I could berate myself for not producing. A timely text to a friend is better than waiting around to send the perfect note. Getting to church two times a month feeds my soul more than not getting there at all, and my four vegetable pots, though I let them lurch from drought to drought, are precious if I don't look at them and say, "I wish I had a bigger garden." I remember Jack Kornfield, who says, "The unawakened mind makes war against what is."
Making one jar of jam exemplifies perfectly this spirit of making do. I don't know if this happens in your house, but I'll pick up a flat of berries or a bag of apricots and leave them on the counter. They are perfection at first, but then 2 days later, we've been gone a lot or forgotten about them, and they start to lose their luster. That's the glory of jam. In the stewing, they become beautiful again, transformed and bright. Lots of metaphors there, I think.
You'll notice that I've pictured strawberry jam with Thai herbs. It's from Lianna Krissoff's "Canning for a New Generation," which is a favorite book. But it's the apricot jam that I'm really loving lately, and it gels up easier than strawberries, so I'm giving you that recipe in hopes you'll try this!
The reason to sterilize jars and listen for the popping sound is if you're going to put your jam in the pantry for a year. If you're just making a small batch like this one, you'll just keep it in the fridge for a few weeks until it's gone, and the sugar and refrigeration preserve it just fine.
You can easily double this, but any more than that gets you into tricky territory with ratios of fruit and sugar. If you cook mixture down in a fairly wide saucepan, the large surface area helps the liquid evaporate quickly and you'll have jam in less than 10 minutes!
For more inspiration, check out Marisa McClellean's blog Food in Jars.
1 lb. apricots, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1. Combine apricots and sugar in a bowl and let sit for a few minutes until sugar is dissolved.
2. Scrape mixture into a large, low, heavy skillet. Bring to a boil and stir constantly until jam thickens, about 8 minutes. You'll know it's done when you can pull your spatula through the mixture and the jam doesn't immediately rush in to fill the space – it "sticks" a little bit, making a pathway in the pan.
3. Scrape the finished jam into a small, heatproof jar and refrigerate. Or give away!
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