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Apricot And Honey Jam

6 pounds apricots - (abt 50) -- see * Note
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup mild honey, orange blossom or clover (or equal amount of sugar)
3 tablespoons lemon juice


* Note: Soft, ripe apricots make jam with the most flavor, and they cook down and thicken faster. Taste the mixture before, during and after cooking to sweeten to your own liking. This jam will darken in the jar over time.

Wash the apricots. Cut them in half through the natural indentation and remove the pits. Slice each half into 2 lengthwise strips. There should be approximately 4 quarts.

In a large nonaluminum bowl, gently combine the apricot slices, sugar, honey and lemon juice. Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours, stirring several times to keep the fruit coated and to help the juices dissolve the sugar.

Place the fruit mixture in a 6- to 8-quart shallow pan and bring to a boil over high heat. With a metal spoon or fine mesh skimmer, skim off any foam that collects on the surface and reduce the heat to medium. Continue cooking and skimming, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick with a few chunks left, 50 to 60 minutes, and the whole mass appears slightly glazed. To test whether jam is ready, remove 2 tablespoons to a small saucer and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile turn off the heat under the pan. When the test amount is cool, it will wrinkle slightly when slowly pushed together with your finger. If it doesn't, continue cooking for another 5 minutes and test again. When ready, the jam will be thick but will still flow from a spoon. You can also test the jam by scooping some out in a metal spoon and then pouring it back into the pot. When the jam begins to pour out in a single sheet rather than in several different streams, it's done. Make sure you have clean jars and rims and fresh lids that have never been used (lids and rims can be purchased separate from jars). Dip every jar and lid (as well as any other implements that will touch the finished jam) into a large pot of boiling water for at least 3 minutes. Afterward, remove them to a baking sheet and keep them in a 250 degree oven until you are ready to use them. When the jam is cooked, ladle it into the jars, coming within 1/4-inch of the top (a wide-mouthed canning funnel makes this easy). Wipe the threads of the jar clean and place the lid on top of the jar. Screw down the rim as tight as it will go. Place the sealed jars in boiling water to cover for 10 minutes. Remove them to a sideboard and let them cool. You should hear a repeated "plink-plink" as the cooling jars form the vacuum that seals the lid. When the jars are cool, test each by pushing down in the center of the lid. There should be no flex in the lid. If there is, return the sealed jar to the boiling water for another round. Do not tighten the rims further. Store jams and jellies in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry. This recipe yields 9 (8-ounce) jars.


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