Fresh apricots have so short a season in the Middle East that bukra fil-mishmish (tomorrow, in apricot season, said in Arabic) is what you say to promise you’ll get something done quickly.
Probably that’s why there are almost no Arabic recipes featuring the fresh fruit. But why buy imported apricot jam when you can make your own from fresh, local fruit? See Karen Chernick’s report on food politics. Or, for that matter, why buy chutney? Try our apricot chutney recipe too.
Many of the best jam fruits ripen in summer, so standing and stirring jam on a hot day seems inevitable. But baking jam in the oven allows you to walk away from the whole process and just scoop the caramelized fruit with its thick syrup into a clean, dry jar.
Couldn’t be easier, and the flavor is incomparable: bright, tangy, and true to the apricot.The amount of sugar here makes a rather tart jam. You may increase it to 6 cups, which will give you a 50/50 proportion of sugar to fruit.
Note: start the jam in the early evening and let it cool overnight in the oven. That way you’ll avoid having the oven on during the hottest part of the day.
Baked Apricot Jam
yield: about 6 cups
I kg. – 2 lb. fresh, rinsed and dried apricots
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons vanilla sugar or 1 vanilla pod, split open
750 grams – 4 cups plain granulated sugar
Method for making apricot jam
Cut the apricots along their natural division and extract the pits. Halve them.
Place apricots in a shallow baking dish and pour the water over.
Mix the vanilla and plain sugar and pour it over the apricots. If using a vanilla bean, place it in the middle of the fruit. Do not cover the fruit.
Turn the oven on to 325 F – 160 C.
Bake for 3-4 hours, checking occasionally to make sure the fruit is continuing to cook without burning, and to stir the vanilla bean around if using.
The liquid will become thicker upon cooling. Once the fruit is slightly charred (and a delicious aroma fills the kitchen when you open the oven), turn the oven off. Allow the jam to cool in the oven. Refrigerate.
If preserving for long-term use, remove the jam from the oven while still hot and pack into hot, sterilized jars.
More local-fruit preserves on Green Prophet: