Have I told you that there are no apricots this year? Back when the sweet cherries started ripening, I went picking and there were buckets of apricots also to buy. I made sure to get some. I actually cleaned out my wallet for them. But still, it was only a few pounds. The girls who worked there forgot to tell me that this was all they had this year. I neglected to ask how the crop was. Silly me, thinking the cherries were okay that everything was okay. Au contraire! I am so sad. I learned when it was too late that no one, it seems, has apricots. For the record, early plums are also a no show. Only the Italian prune plums, but no santa rosas or elephant hearts or yellow shiros. That’s pretty sad news. Not last year. Not this year. What can you do?
I must be truthful: I didn’t even take any pictures of them. I let them sit and get soft while I fawned over the cherries. I was that positive there would be more. I was really looking forward to making plain apricot jam. It’s one of my favorites. I did, however, make one batch of jam with the lot I happened upon. I mixed them with the sweet cherries I picked when I bought them. Apricot and cherry jam is quite nice—with sweet cherries or sour cherries. I’ve been making it for years. But this year I was looking to do something different, because I had all the apricots in the world, didn’t I? Well, I went to the liquor cabinet for inspiration and gave the Aperol a gimlet eye. Land ho! Aperol, an Italian aperitif made from bitter orange, rhubarb and other things, is similar to Campari, made by Campari, and did you know has a lower alcohol content? I do enjoy some in my seltzer at times. It’s perfect in this jam: a fruity bitterness with that crazy orange-pink color. Exactly the color apricot and cherries make when mixed together in a jam. So, if you happen upon some apricots, lucky soul, and also some cherries, go ahead and give this a whirl. And if you happen to see some apricots being sold in the Hudson Valley, let me know would you?
Apricot Sweet Cherry Aperol Jam
Yield: 8 – 9 half pint jars
2 pounds apricots
2 pounds pitted sweet cherries
2 pounds sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
¼ cup Aperol http://www.aperol.com/int/en/
Chop the apricots coarsely. Pit the cherries. Add the sugar to them and let them macerate overnight, covered and refrigerated. The next day, add this mixture to a pot and add the lemon juice. Boil vigorously until the mixture has thickened and begins to get glossy, about twenty minutes. Apricots and cherries are both relatively low in pectin so this will be a soft set jam, more liquid as you can see in the picture above. When you feel like it’s at a thickness you are happy with—the drips from the spoon should be thick and viscous but don’t expect it sheet—add the aperol and stir it in gently. Cook for about another minute or two, then turn off the heat. Let it sit, then can according to your favorite book or site’s directions. Process this for ten minutes.