This recipe is a great weekend project, not requiring much time on either day. On Saturday morning, place dried apricot chunks into a bowl, cover with water, and set aside to soak for 24 hours.
The next morning, finish making your conserve in about an hour, start to finish. You can also take it one step further, by adding a bit of booze before sealing up the jars. Conserves are perfectly appropriate on toast, or where ever you would use jam or jelly, and it's also a nice way to jazz up a cheese platter. You can even use this conserve to baste meats while they're roasting in the oven. I better stop talking now so you can make some!
Makes ~8 half pints
- 3 cups dried apricots, quartered
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 vanilla bean*
- 3 cups white sugar
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup currants (or raisins)
- 2 TBS Grand Marnier
Note: Prepare canning jars and keep hot until ready to use; prepare lids according to the manufacturer's instructions. Since you are rehydrating the apricots overnight, you will want to wait until the next day to prepare the jars.
1.) Place quartered apricots in a large bowl and cover with water. (Be sure there is enough room for the apricots to double or triple in size.) Set aside to soak overnight. 24 hours is best.
Note: The next day, prepare canning jars and keep hot until ready to use; prepare lids according to the manufacturer's instructions.
2.) Drain apricots, but save the soaking liquid.
3.) Add the apricots to a large, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pan. Measure the soaking liquid and add it to the apricots. Add more water, so that you have a total of 6 cups of water in the pan with the 'cots.
4.) Add lemon zest & juice. (Don't use an aluminum, copper, or cast iron pan when cooking with lemon juice &/or vinegar.)
5.) Add vanilla bean*.
6.) Cook over medium heat, simmering constantly and stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until apricots are soft. (You can crush the apricots with a potato masher if you want smaller pieces, or use an immersion blender if you want the preserves smoother.) You will want to taste the preserves once every 10 minutes, to decide when to remove the vanilla bean. Because vanilla beans vary a lot in size and flavor, the amount of time you need to cook it with the preserves varies greatly too.
7.) Add sugar and cook for 10 more minutes, or until desired thickness.
8.) Add walnuts and currants or raisins. If desired, add a splash of Grand Marnier for a "grown-up" boozy taste.
9.) Ladle into clean jars, run a plastic knife around the edges to remove any air bubbles, and then wipe rims spotlessly clean with a damp paper towel.
10.) Place a sealing lid on the jar, and then screw a band onto jar fingertip-tight.
11.) Process for 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath then turn off heat.
12.) Turn kettle off and let jars rest in kettle for 5 more minutes.
13.) Remove jars from kettle using jar-lifter tongs, and gently set aside to cool on the counter, on a kitchen towel, in a draft-free place.
14.) Let rest for 24 hours, then check for proper seal before storing.
> If jars lid seals it will easily keep for one year in a cool, dark place. If jar doesn't seal, place it in your refrigerator and eat within 3 months, and within one month after opening.
*When you are finished using the vanilla bean for the recipe, you can use it again! Rinse it off, let it dry and put it in a big jar full of white sugar. The result? Within a few days you will have Vanilla Sugar, which is something you can buy already made, but why would you when it's so easy to make it yourself?