We have a big apricot tree in our backyard. It fact, it is the only tree we have there. And we had high hopes for it when we had just moved into our house a few years ago. We imagined seeing the tree covered in apricots every summer and us happily piling them up into baskets to even more happily devour them. Our dreams crushed when the neighborhood’s gardener told us, “I’ve known this tree for years. It has never borne fruit.” It was a sad moment. We sighed. But I think each of us continued to secretly fancy those juicy sweet apricots on the tree. A year passed without apricots but guess what happened the following year – the tree gave us lots of apricots! Juicy, sweet, delicious apricots! And then it gave more and more every year. What a generous gift of nature!
This year we have lots of apricots again. So, what do we do with this bounty? The good ones still holding their shapes nicely albeit being ripe – we eat them and treat them to whoever walks in our door. The soft and mushy one, dripping juices – I make them into preserves. This year I added a new twist to my apricot preserves – oranges! I cut an orange into small cubes and let it cook along with the apricots. Orange made all the difference! The citrusy flavor with tang balanced well with the sweetness of the apricots. And then there is this soft chewiness of apricot skin. So aromatic too! My friends, you should make this preserves. It is really good. And easy to make.
Makes 3 pints (1.5 liters)
Use ripe, very soft sweet apricots. You do not have to chop them. The apricots will collapse while cooking, yielding slightly chunky yet smooth preserves. Choose juicy oranges. I used Valencia oranges – they are packed with juice, have a thin skin and are very aromatic. As far as sugar is concerned – depending on how sweet your apricots are, you can slightly increase or decrease the amount of sugar to your taste. Our apricots are rather sweet and these proportions worked quite well for my preserves.
3 pounds (1.5 kg) pitted apricots (to pit the apricots, gently separate the two halves along the slit and remove the pit)
2 pounds (1 kg) granulated sugar
1 juicy orange, finely cubed (1 cup), with skin and all (remove the seeds)
Place the pitted apricots in a wide pan. Spread the sugar over the fruit and set the pan aside for 2 to 3 hours, or until the sugar has completely melted. Add the orange cubes.
Put the pan on the stove. Turn the heat to medium to low and simmer the fruit for about 2 hours, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking to the pan and burning and gently smashing the fruit. Using a slotted spoon, remove any froth that will surface to the top. Towards the end of cooking, bubbles will be heavier and blister-like, and the syrup will have thickened. Remove the pan from the heat. Bring to a room temperature. Spoon the preserved into sterilized jars and store in a cool place.