Apricot Vanilla Jam

The vanilla takes this over the top. It's become one of my favorite jams!

Apricot Vanilla Jam
Makes 4 - half pint jars

Make Vanilla Sugar
A few days before making jam, put in a sealable container:
500g granulated sugar (2 1/2 cups)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped into sugar
Bury the vanilla bean in the sugar.

Make jam
When you are ready to make the jam, place in a large non-reactive stock pot or Dutch oven:
1kg pitted fresh apricots, cut into eighths (approx. 1.1kg  or 2.4lbs unpitted apricots)

Add to the apricots:
500g Vanilla Sugar (see above), including the vanilla bean
juice of a lemon

Stir to combine, immersing the vanilla bean in the apricot sugar mixture. Cover pot with a tea cloth and leave on counter overnight to allow the apricots to macerate in the sugar.

The next day, remove vanilla bean, scraping the inside one last time to get as much of the seeds as possible. Put a couple of small plates in the freezer.

Place stock pot on medium-high burner and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent the bottom from scorching. I like to use a wood spatula which doesn't get hot.  Its long flat edge also does a better job of scraping the bottom than a spoon.

Keep an eye on the boiling jam. Turn down heat if necessary to keep from boiling over.  You may see some foaming as the jam starts to boil.  It's not necessary to skim off the foam as it will dissipate as you continue to cook the jam.

When it looks like it's thickened or jelled, turn off the heat and place a small spoonful on the frozen plate. Return to the freezer for a couple of minutes. Then draw your finger thru the jam. If it wrinkles and mounds, it's done. If not, continue to boil and try again. I like my jam on the runny side, so 10-15 minutes of cooking works for me.

Ladle jam into sterilized canning jars to within 1/4 inch of top.  Put on cap; screw band fingertip tight. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Alternatively, if you don't want to can, let the jam cool a bit and then ladle into freezer-proof containers leaving plenty of headspace for expansion. Once cooled, store in freezer for up to one year. You can also store in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

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