Written by Marisa of Food in Jars.
As a canner, I feel obligated not to play favorites when it comes to fruit. How can you possibly prefer strawberries to cherries, or like peaches more than cantaloupe? Every variety of fruit has its individual charms and each deserves its moment in the seasonal spotlight.
However, there is one I’m always most excited to see each year.
All photos by Marisa McClellan
I love their color, their flavor and the fact that they make the most amazing jam. Even a mediocre apricot sings when cooked down with sugar and a squeeze of lemon.
Recently, I found myself in the possession of a dozen rapidly ripening apricots. After working my way through 25 pounds of apricots in July, I had thought that my apricots days were done for the year.
When this installment arrived, I was flummoxed. Though I adore them, I wasn’t sure what else there was there to do with apricots that I hadn’t already done.
There was no time to waste, however. Those apricots were becoming increasingly ripe with every passing moment and being utterly unable to bear the thought of waste, I planted myself in the kitchen to search for inspiration.
A newly purchased jug of honey was on the counter and the blue glass jar of lavender buds was within easy reach. A plan was hatched: a honey-sweetened apricot butter with lavender.
Though I didn’t cook this preserve for hours like many of the butters I’ve made in the past, I call this a butter instead of a jam for two reasons:
- One is that consistency of the final product has a thick, nearly-matte finish, which is unlike the sticky, shiny consistency of a true, sugar-sweetened jam.
- Two, because of my choice to use honey over sugar, the flavor of the apricots and lavender stand out much more prominently than the sweet notes. Jam is typically sweet first, flavorful second.
This recipe makes just one and a half pints. I canned mine up in three squat half pint jars and I suggest you do the same. Preserves made with honey are lovely when it comes to flavor, but not so good when it comes to staying power.
Even in the refrigerator, a honey-sweetened preserve will only be able to resist the ravages of mold for two to three weeks. If you’re particularly slow at working your way through jams, keeping the open portions small helps minimize waste.
Recipe: Apricot Lavender Butter
- 3 cups chopped apricots (about 1 1/2 pounds whole fruit)
- 3/4 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons food grade lavender buds
Combine chopped apricots and honey in a bowl. Stir well to combine. Tie the lavender buds up in a length of cheesecloth so that none can escape and tuck it into the apricots and honey. Cover and let sit at room temperature for one hour, so that the lavender flavor can begin to infuse into the fruit.
When the time is up, taste the uncooked mixture. If you like the current level of lavender infusion, remove the packet and discard. If you want a bit more lavender flavor leave the packet in for the first 10-15 minutes of cooking.
Prior to cooking, prepare a small boiling water bath and three half pint jars. Place lids in a small pot of water and bring to the barest simmer.
Pour the fruit, honey and lavender packet into a wide, non-reactive pot. Place over high heat and cook at a boil, stirring regularly, for 15-20 minutes.
As it cooks, check the consistency regularly by sweeping your spoon through the butter and then holding it sideways over the pot. Watch how it drops off the spoon. If it looks runny, it isn’t done yet. If it looks thick and nearly spreadable, remove the pot from the heat. It is done.
Ladle butter into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.
When the time is up, remove jars from canner and place on a tea towel to cool. When jars are cool to the touch, remove rings and check seals. Sealed jars can be stored in the pantry for up to one year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.
Do you have a favorite fruit butter that emulates summer for you?