Summer after summer, I have wanted to start canning. I didn’t want to can in our small kitchen here in Seattle, afraid that it would be too messy or there would not be enough room to work. However, all of these worries were uncalled for and I have been making lots of jam and pickles this summer. One of my favorites so far is this apricot blackberry jam, which, I think is better than apricot or blackberry jam. I used half apricots and half black diamond blackberries with a split vanilla bean and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. I also prefer to make a low sugar jam and, as a result, need to use a commercial pectin to thicken it up a bit. There are some rules that you need to follow if you want to actually can, be sure to read some general guidelines from the ball canning site or book.
I have been baking the jars to process them, instead of using the traditional water bath because my biggest pot is not quite big enough to accommodate standing pint jars with an inch of water on top. This method definitely is much easier and less intimidating, but I found the results a bit less reliable than the traditional water bath. Whichever you chose, you will hear little “pings!” as the jars cool and the lids get vacuum sealed.
Preserving is much easier and less intimidating than most people think it will be. You don’t need to can 20 pounds of fruit in order to can. All you need is a couple pounds of apricots and berries to stretch the August into winter.
Apricot Blackberry Jam
2 cups mashed apricots (about 1 pound)
2 cups mashed blackberries (about 1 pound)
2/3 cup apple juice or white grape juice
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice or sugar
1/2 large lemon, juiced and zested
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
low sugar commercial pectin (i used the ball low sugar pectin, 3 tbsp)
Prepare the fruit. Pit and slice the apricots, no need to peel. Rinse and mash berries and apricots together. In a wide mouthed pot, like a dutch oven, Combine the apple juice, mashed fruit, lemon juice and zest, and the split vanilla bean and bring to a boil, constantly stirring. I usually cook this down until the juices are a reduced. Stir in the pectin and bring the jam back up to a boil. Stir in the sugar and boil hard for about a minute. If you wish to process and can this jam, follow the standard process. If not, spoon into clean glass jars and store in the refrigerator (eat soon) or freezer.