Apricots Two Way

For Amy’s complete canning instructions, visit www.edibleseattle.com

I like diversity in my pantry. Sticking to the same recipe year after year gets a bit dull, and I grow tired of canning with the same recipes each season. In my quest to try something new, I decided to try a fruit mustard. Italians cook up fruit and add mustard to the syrup, calling it mostarda—a spicy, fruity combination served alongside meat. For this recipe, I make a pot of apricot jam, soak mustard seeds in apple cider vinegar, and cook them together into a thick condiment. It is similar to honey mustard, but the apricot is more pronounced and the mustard is more spicy than sweet. Apricot Mustard is a well-matched condiment for cured meats and cheese, and it’s excellent when blended with mascarpone and used as a spread. This mustard can also be used as a glaze on roasted meats (brush mustard on the meat in the last 10 minutes of cooking). Store opened jars in the fridge. It will keep for many months once opened.

Apricot Mustard
Makes about 4 half-pints | start to finish: 2 days
from Edible Seattle May/June 2011 

2 pounds apricots, pitted and halved
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 lemon, outer zest grated, halved, and juiced, seeds reserved in a muslin bag
1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon ground yellow mustard
1 cup apple cider vinegar

In a large saucepan, combine the apricots, sugar, water, lemon juice, juiced lemon halves, seed bag, and zest. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a simmer. Skim any foam from the surface as it cooks. Cook until the fruit is soft and the sugar is dissolved, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and (leaving all fruit in the saucepan) cover and hold in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

While the apricots are cooking, smash the brown and yellow mustard seeds with a mortar and pestle. Work in small batches until most of the seeds are broken and slightly ground. You can also use a spice grinder, but be sure to grind them only to a coarse meal. Put the smashed seeds and ground mustard in a small bowl, pour in the apple cider vinegar, and set aside, covered, on the countertop, at least 6 hours or overnight.

The next morning, prepare jars for canning. You’ll need to sterilize the empty jars for this recipe. Put a small plate in the freezer. (You will use this later to check the set.) Remove the lemon halves and seed bag from the stockpot, pressing out the remaining juice and pulp.

Return the saucepan of fruit to medium heat on the stovetop and cook down until thickened and amber in color, about 30 minutes. Stir in the vinegar-mustard seed mixture until combined. Scoop out about a cup of the apricot mustard and purée in a blender, on high speed, until creamy and smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add this purée back to the pot and cook until thick and set, about 15 to 30 minutes. Skim foam as necessary.

To test the set, remove the plate from the freezer and add a small spoon of mustard to the plate. Push the mustard with your fingertip. It should wrinkle, indicating it has set. If the mustard is loose, return the mixture to the heat and cook for another 10 minutes, checking the set until the desired consistency is reached. Add the mustard to the sterilized jars, and gently tap the bottom of the jars on the counter to release any air bubbles. Using a clean damp towel, wipe the rims of the jars and put the lids and rings on the jars.

Process in a water bath for 5 minutes. Remove each jar with tongs and let cool on the counter. Once cool, make sure seals are secure. Sealed jars may be stored in a cool dark cupboard for up to one year.

sterilized jars • water bath

Excerpted from Urban Pantry: Tips & Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable & Seasonal Kitchen By Amy Pennington, Skipstone 2010

Apricots have a strong flavor that turns bitter-tasting when heated up and cooked down. In order to compensate, more sugar is added throughout cooking. Rest assured that this preserve will not be overly sweet. To combat both the added sweetness and the mouth-puckering acid of apricots, an infusion of lemon balm is added to smooth out the flavor. Many herbs would be overpowered when paired with apricots, but the sometimes soap-y flavor of lemon balm works in perfect harmony. Lemon balm grows wild all over Seattle and is often mistaken for mint. One clip of the leaves, however, and its fragrance is unmistakable.

Apricot-Lemon Balm Preserve
Makes about 4 half-pints | start to finish: 2 days
from Edible Seattle May/June 2011

1 cup water
2 cups lemon balm leaves and stems, coarsely chopped
3 pounds apricots, pitted and halved
3 1/2 cups sugar, plus more to taste
1 lemon, halved, and juiced, seeds reserved in a muslin bag

Rinse lemon balm and place in a medium, heat-proof bowl. Bring water to a boil and pour over lemon balm. Let steep until water is completely cool, 30 to 40 minutes. Taste. The flavor should be almost overwhelming. If a stronger infusion is desired, boil the infused water and pour over another heap of fresh lemon balm, as above. Once it’s cool, strain out the leaves.

In a large saucepan, combine the infused water, apricots, sugar, lemon juice, juiced lemon halves and seed bag. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a simmer. Skim any foam from the surface as it cooks. Cook until the fruit is soft and the sugar is dissolved, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and, leaving fruit in the saucepan, cover and hold in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

In the morning, prepare jars for canning. You’ll need to sterilize the empty jars for this recipe. Put a small plate in the freezer. (You will use this later to check the set.) Remove the lemon halves and seeds from the pot.

Return the saucepan of fruit to medium heat on the stovetop and cook down until thick, about 30 to 40 minutes. Taste for sweetness—preserves should be just a little too sweet. If jam is still a bit tart, add sugar in half-cup increments until satisfied.

To test the set, remove the plate from the freezer and spoon a small amount on it. Push the preserves with your fingertip. It should be thick, indicating it has set. If a loose ring of liquid bleeds out from the spoon of preserves, it is not cooked enough. Return the mixture to the heat and cook for another 10-20 minutes, checking the set until the desired consistency is reached.

Add the preserves to the sterilized jars, and gently tap the bottom of the jars on the counter to release any air bubbles. Using a clean damp towel, wipe the rims of the jars and put the lids and rings on the jars. Process in a water bath for 5 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs and let cool on the counter. When the jars are cool, check for proper seals, and label with date and contents. Store in a cool, dark cupboard until ready to use, for up to one year.

sterilized jars • water bath

Amy Pennington is the creator and owner of GoGo Green Garden and Urban Garden Share. Her first book, Urban Pantry, was published in spring of 2010, followed by Apartment Gardening in April 2011. 

  • Share this >>
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email