This quick and easy apricot jam only takes about 10 minutes to make. It’s naturally sweetened and thickened with chia seeds. With such a pure apricot flavor, you won’t be able to stop eating it!
There’s a magical window of time in the summer in which produce is so cheap, and so abundant, that you have to scramble to use it up in every way you can think of, before it goes bad. Because – particularly when you live in a place that is borderline-uninhabitably-cold for 9 months of the year – it is a cardinal sin to waste summer produce.
The decision is hierarchical:
- Ideally, it is at the peak of freshness, so you can eat it raw, whole, and unadulterated.
- But if it’s slightly flawed, you use it in a salad.
- Slightly less perfect produce goes into baked goods.
- The least prime produce – the bruised, the battered, the on-the-verge-of-collapse stuff – gets salvaged (at least its non-bruised parts) for jam.
It took years before I finally got around to making jam, but it is the best way to use up fresh apricots – or other fresh stone fruits, berries, and other summer fruit – that might otherwise go to waste.
“Making jam” conjures images of stiflingly hot kitchens, huge boiling cauldrons of fruit slurry, pounds and pounds of sugar, frilly aprons, and sweaty brows. None of that is appealing to me.
In my mind, the kitchens in which jam is made are always wallpapered. I don’t have wallpaper in my kitchen.
Jam is supposed to take hours to make, can, cool, and whatever else you’re supposed to do with it, and I don’t have hours.
Also, pectin powder is weird.
So I assumed I couldn’t make jam.
I was – as you have probably surmised by now – misinformed.
How To Make Apricot Jam (An Experiment Gone Right)
Faced with the prospect of (gasp!) throwing away some bruised apricots, I opted instead to throw them in a pot, add a sprinkle of chia seeds, a splash of honey, and a dash of cinnamon, cranked the stove up to high heat, and cooked it down for as long as I had the patience for (about 5-10 minutes).
I wasn’t sure if I had fresh apricot jam or some kind of healthier syrup (which would have made a great ice cream topping!), because the hot jam was really runny, but as it cooled to room temperature, it thickened and set into the perfect jammy consistency for toast and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (or, still, ice cream).
How To Thicken Apricot Jam
It might be surprising to see me using chia seeds, given my well documented distrust of those weird little seeds, but – though I don’t the gelatinousness of most chia puddings – I swear by the use of chia seeds in other applications, like thickening apricot jam.
Typically, natural pectin, or added powdered pectin, is the compound that thickens jams. Unlike applies, some berries, and citrus skin, apricots don’t have a lot of natural pectin in them, so they need a hand with the thickening process.
But this recipe actually requires absolutely no pectin, thanks to the chia seeds. The seeds work similarly to added pectin in that they absorb moisture to thicken watery mixtures, but they also offer a host of health benefits that puts pectin to shame.
Simplifying Jam Making
The simplicity of this recipe is probably the best part.
There is no canning, meaning no perilously dunking jars into a large pot of boiling water (is that a water bath? Calling it a water bath makes a perilous activity sound so relaxed!) while attempting not to scald yourself. But, if you put the hot jam in canning jars and tightly close the tops before the jam cools, it will seal itself enough for you to consider it freezer jam and stash it in your freezer for months on end. (Do not, however, store it in your pantry, since it’s not sterile without going through the full canning process.)
There is no need to spend hours at the stove.
There is no need for a candy thermometer. It would probably help, but is not mandatory as it is for most homemade jam recipes.
All you need is a pot, a few ingredients, and a stove. Cook the fruit together with the honey, chia seeds, cinnamon, and a little water, over medium-high heat
Sweetening Your Jam Without White Sugar
I make my apricot jam with honey, but if you want to make this vegan, you can use maple syrup instead.
To make this sugar free, use 1/2 tablespoon granulated stevia or monk fruit – though, if you are counting carbs, remember that apricots contain a fair amount of natural sugar. Even with the honey called for in the recipe, the jam is still relatively low in (added) sugar.
If you would like to use coconut sugar, feel free to add 1-2 Tablespoons (to taste). The flavor of the jam will be a bit different than it otherwise would, but the molasses-y flavor of the coconut sugar should suit the apricots very well. But, you should expect your apricot jam to be darker than pictured if you decide to use coconut sugar to sweeten it.
Use This Method For Other Types of Jam
By replacing the fresh apricots with other farmers market produce, you can easily make all kinds of different types of jam:
- Tomato jam: replace the fresh apricots with perfectly ripe tomatoes (seeds and skins removed). Omit the honey and cinnamon and add a pinch or two of salt (to taste).
- Strawberry jam: replace the apricots with washed, hulled, and chopped berries. In this case, you should also add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice (to taste).
- Apricot-almond jam: Add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon (to taste) real almond extract. Almond flavor compliments the fresh apricots perfectly!
- Peach, nectarine, or plum jam: replace the apricots with another stone fruit.
What To Do With Your Jam
As I mentioned earlier, you can certainly use it in the traditional ways, like on toast, or a peanut butter sandwich.
But you can also get creative and use it in a cake, between the layers, or as a glaze.
You can also use it as a glaze or topping for something unexpected, like grilled pork chops, or the base of a salad dressing!
Get creative and enjoy your apricot jam!
- 2 cups chopped fresh apricots (~5-6 apricots, pitted)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons honey (see note for vegan instructions)
- 1 Tablespoon white chia seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
Add the apricots, water, and honey to a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Cook until the apricots start to soften and break down (5-8 minutes).
Use the back of a fork, or a potato masher, to crush the apricots into a smooth paste.
Add the chia and cinnamon, and cook for about 3 minutes, until mixture is thickened.
Remove pot from heat and allow the jam to cool and set.
Puree the jam (optional) before enjoying.
- To make this vegan, use maple syrup instead of honey.
- If you prefer to use granulated stevia or monk fruit, use 1/2 Tablespoon (or to taste) in place of the honey.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
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KUKPO Stainless Steel Potato Masher with Broad and Ergonomic Horizontal Handle – Fine-grid Mashing Plate for Smooth Mashed Potatoes, Vegetables and Fruits
NOW Foods White Chia Seed,1-Pound
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g