One of the things the Soviet immigrants to the West remember most vividly from their old life are the fragrant whole-fruit preserves, deliciously candied in a pool of flavorful syrup. They talk about them. They dream about them. They pass the pictures of preserves around on Facebook.
Some of us can make these at home, others can’t, but everybody wants to. Ironically for me, I haven’t made a single batch back in Azerbaijan, and neither did my mom and grandma. They just never learned how.
When I came to Wisconsin ten years ago and settled on our fruit-rich farm, I began to cook these for the first time, figuring things out as I went. I’ve since made them with our farm-grown raspberries, pricey imported figs, and cherries from our tree. In fact, I got so into jams and jellies over the years that I began to think of fruit as an artistic medium, where I was Van Gogh and Monet and O’Keeffe combined.
As it happens, I’ve made this insanely-delicious batch yesterday using apricots halves. Although there isn’t a great deal of local apricots in the Western Wisconsin, I found that organic store-bought apricots from California work just as well in this delightful traditional recipe. All the better if you can find apricots locally-grown and in season.
Here it is – print it today, cook it when you get the chance:
Russian Apricot Preserves
Makes 1 pint.
- 1 lb apricots, halved, stones removed
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lemon juice, divided
1. Combine water, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice together in a heavy-bottomed pot and start heating everything up over medium-high heat.
2. When the sugar is mostly dissolved, add in the apricots.
3. Bring everything to a boil, reduce the heat to a fast simmer, and continue cooking for approximately 50 minutes, or until the syrup has thickened to this consistency.
4. Once the preserves are finished but still hot, stir in the remaining teaspoon of lemon juice for an extra kick of color and flavor.
5. Transfer the finished preserves into a mason jar while still hot and allow to cool, uncovered, on the counter. Cover the cooled preserves and place them in the fridge, where they will keep for several months.
Preserves and jams of all kinds can also be frozen, where they will keep for several years – just remember to not fill your jars all the way to the top to allow the room for expansion.