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Apricot preserves are a type of jelly made by slowly simmering fresh apricots with sugar and water. Usually preserves have larger chunks of the fruit in them, while jellies and jams have a smoother consistency. Preserves can be canned and stored for many months if properly prepared and sealed. Homemade preserves can be given as gifts and may also be a healthier alternative to commercially prepared versions for those who prefer to limit preservatives and sugar in their diets. Fresh apricot preserves can be spread on toast or used as a condiment or sauce in a variety of recipes.
When making apricot preserves, it’s important to use very fresh and ripe apricots, because their flavor will be concentrated during cooking. Remove the pits from the apricots and either leave them halved or chop into smaller pieces for a smoother, more spreadable texture. Combine the fruit with sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and then simmer over medium or low heat until it reaches the desired consistency. The mixture should be checked and stirred frequently to avoid scorching or burning.
Canning apricot preserves is a great way to store them for later use. Canning jars and lids should be sterilized using boiling water. Once sterilized, it’s important not to touch the insides of the jars or lids, as even clean hands can carry small amounts of bacteria that can cause the canned food to spoil. Fill the clean jars with hot preserves and be sure they are properly sealed.
Making preserves at home is a great way to control the amount of sugar and eliminate preservatives that are often found in commercially prepared jelly. Those who grow gardens in the summer can enjoy their harvest during the winter months when fresh produce is harder to obtain by making preserves and other canned foods. Batches of apricot preserves can also be jarred and decorated to make personalized gifts or even party favors.
Toast with butter and a spread of apricot preserves can make a great breakfast or snack. The preserves can also be used as a topping on ice cream or a slice of cake to make a refreshing dessert. Apricots, along with raisins and apples, are all fruits that can complement a pork roast, and preserves can be used to make a glaze for a baked ham.
It's very important to note the need to follow each step of the processing procedure carefully, if you are making preserves at home. If your preserves become contaminated with botulism (a bacteria), it can kill you.
The high levels of sugar called for in preserve recipes are there because the sugar actually prevents the growth of bacteria in the preserves. It can be dangerous to arbitrarily lower them. Also, you must put the filled jars of preserves back into boiling water for at least 10 to 15 minutes, in order to seal the jars properly and prevent bacterial growth.
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