I grew up in the middle of what was once an apricot orchard in California. There were, if I can remember correctly, about 6 trees left on my parents property by the time I could appreciate them. They were old, and some years they struggled, but some years they brought forth a plethora of golden fruit. These years of plenty I am sure my mom made many recipes with the apricots, but all I really remember was cutting tons of them for the drying rack (dried apricots, so good!) and eating them fresh off the tree. This bounty was unappreciated at a young age, but now when faced with the shocking price of apricots (especially organic ones) in stores, I have really came to appreciate what we had in the yard.
When I moved to Colorado I did not know much about the crop growing scene. There isn’t as much diversity as California, sure, there can’t be because of the altitude and the snow. But, like many states, there are a lot of different microclimates here and in those microclimates certain crops thrive. One of these microclimates is Palisade on the western side of the Rocky Mountains (here we call it the western slope). Palisade is so well known for their stone fruit that a part of the logo on their website is a peach and their motto is, “Life tastes good here all year round”. They even have a “Orchards & Farms” link under their Local Businesses section.
I have never been to Palisade, but thanks to two breweries I frequent – Casey Brewing and Blending and Powder Keg Brewing Company – I have been able to experience many different fruits from there. Both of these breweries make delicious sour beer and fruit them with Palisade fruits like peaches, cherries, and apricots.
4th of July weekend I was lucky enough to be gifted pounds on pounds of organic apricots from Palisade. It was like being back home in California, only about 3 times as much fruit! The apricots were super delicious fresh on their own but with almost 60 pounds of fruit I knew that I needed to preserve many of them. First I cut up a bunch to put on the food dehydrator (because dried apricots are heaven!!! I ended up making two full dehydrator batches) but after that I set out to experiment with a bunch of different jam recipes.
For preserving recipes I have been obsessed with Saving the Season by Kevin West. I have used this book for so many different preserving recipes in the two years I have had it and continue to go back to it for inspiration. Using his measurements as a starting point I made four different apricot jams:
- Plain Apricot
- Apricot Amaretto – with homemade amaretto I made from loquat pits a couple years ago!
- Apricot, Vanilla, Maple, Whiskey – based on the recipe in the book but with whiskey rather than bourbon
- Apricot, Vanilla, and Lavender – with lavender from the garden!
I froze 17 pounds of fruit to make more jams/jelly in the future with garden produce when they are ready.
All of these recipes were delicious in their own way but I was so glad I was inspired by watching the bees in the lavender in the backyard (such a great pollinator attractor!) to make Apricot Jam with Lavender and Vanilla.
This jam is SO FREAKING GOOD. I was shocked. It is fruity and floral and sweet and a little tart and pairs amazingly with any cheese. Mr. Physics, who isn’t usually a jam guy, actually couldn’t stop eating it when we brought to a party on the 4th. I should have brought more cheese because the cheese + jam + cracker disappeared before I could have my second taste 😭.
Apricot Jam with Lavender and Vanilla
Recipe modified from Saving the Season
Makes 6 ½-pint jars
3½ lbs apricots
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 vanilla bean split in half (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 tablespoon fresh lavender buds (1 teaspoon dried)
- Wash and remove the pit from 3 and ½ pounds of apricots. I do this by weighing out about 4 lbs, rinsing them, then tearing them apart with my hands into quarters.
- Add sugar and lemon juice. Stir and set aside anywhere from 1 hour until overnight (macerate those apricots!)
- When you are ready to make the jam, if you plan to can it for storage, prepare your water bath. Once your water bath is boiling begin the jam making process.
- Place macerated apricot mixture into the largest circumference pan you have, and the vanilla bean (if using), and bring to a rolling boil. I have a Mauviel Copper Jam Pan which I am in love with but any pot works. Boil for about 10 minutes. Your cooking time will vary depending on the surface area (as well as your altitude, I am at 5000 ft). you can check the jam consistency by putting it on a plate in the fridge.
- Once you like the consistency of the jam add in the lavender buds (and if you aren’t using the vanilla bean, the vanilla extract) and cook one more minute. Turn off the heat.
- Ladle the hot jam into your six prepared ½ pint jars. Leave ¼ inch headspace then process in the water bath (if sealing them) for 10 minutes (or if you live where I live, 20 minutes). If you are not sealing them, put them straight in the fridge.
Enjoy this summer in a jar!