I Don’t Think I’m Ready For This Jelly: Nectarine-Apricot-Ginger Jam

Preservation is a cool word. Officially it means: “the process of keeping safe, unchanged or in existence.” I particularly like how cultures, in order to preserve themselves, had to preserve their food in the process. Like Jews with smoked fish or Southerners and their pickled pigs feet. It’s a cool example of great food evolving out of necessity.

Nectarine-Apricot-Ginger jam, I presume, did not evolve out of necessity. It evolved out of France. And yesterday I began the process of making it using my new Mes Confitures book. First I went to Whole Foods and bought luscious looking nectarines and apricots:

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I also bought candied ginger, which is what Virginia Wolfe sends her maid to London to purchase in “The Hours”:

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Candied ginger is ANOTHER preserved food; it’s what sushi-eaters developed in Japan to keep their sushi fragrant. And sweet. Incrediblby sweet.

Ok, I made that up. But isn’t candied ginger the coolest candy? Because it’s easy-sweet yet it hurts. Really burns in your mouth like a jolt of fire. A great way to start the day!

Moving on, then, we boil the nectarines for 1 minute to loosen their skin:

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I employed the Barefoot Contessa’s technique for peaches where you make an X-shaped slit at the bottom of the fruit before boiling so when it comes out you can just peel the skin off. That didn’t work with the nectarines. I had to use a peeler. It was humiliating.

Now then, we reach the tumultuous part of our story. After slicing up the apricots and nectarines…

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…I read her next instruction: “Squeeze the lemon on the fruit to prevent oxidization.”

WHAT LEMON?

If you read her ingredients there is no lemon. How am I supposed to squeeze a lemon if I don’t have a lemon!

So I did what any jam-chef in my shoes would do. I ran back to Whole Foods–sprinting all the way–to buy a lemon. I arrived there covered in sweat. I grabbed a lemon. I threw money at the cashier. I ran back: my fruit was oxidizing!

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I burst through the door and squeezed lemon all over the fruit (and my cat in the process). Lolita was not happy.

Now then, the ginger:

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There are many people who don’t realize that ginger looks like this in its natural state. They think the ginger they get with sushi is normal natural-state ginger. WRONG! That’s PICKLED ginger. Pickling ginger is a preservation technique developed by the Loxahachee Tribe in Florida to keep their eyelids moist.

So we chop that ginger:

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Add it to the fruit, cover in tons of sugar, and add three cloves:

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Now then we start cooking it:

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Until the sugar melts and it starts simmering:

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This is cool because the only liquid that’s in there is the fruit juice, so you know it’s going to taste right and fruity.

Pour into a bowl and refrigerate overnight:

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TIME PASSES. OVERNIGHT, IN FACT. ADAM SLEEPS AND DREAMS OF A RIDING A CAMEL THROUGH A SUPERMARKET WHILE SINGING “MY SWEET LORD” BY GEORGE HARRISON. PEOPLE THROW ATKINS-RELATED PRODUCTS AT HIM. HE BECOMES A MARTYR AND A MUSICAL IS WRITTEN ABOUT HIM STARRING GEORGE WENDT. ADAM AWAKES.

Now then, we chop up the candied ginger:

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Pull our fruit from the fridge:

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And sterilize our jars:

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First I cleaned them with anti-bacterial soap and then I put them in the 225 degree oven. I figured keeping them face down would ensure that heat could get in while I placed the lids on their bottoms, because I feared putting the lids on the rack directly would melt them.

Meanwhile, I started cooking the jam:

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Her instruction is to get the jam to 221 degrees. It just wasn’t getting there. So I put the lid over it and it got there. I took a jar out of the oven. It was very hot. I immediately poured the jam into the jar, wiped the lid, sealed it up and gloated over my achievement:

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Gorgeous, no? A proud achievement indeed.

And then for the failure. While I was gloating, my jam started burning:

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I tried to fill the second jar but it was beyond redemption:

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Now I felt like a jam loser.

So I looked at my good jam again:

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I felt like a winner again.

My ego was safely preserved.

5 comments

  1. Oddly enough, My Sweet Lord was stuck in my head at least 3 times today!

    Lovely jam AG!

  2. Even if you do go into one of those graduate writing programs, please don’t stop writing your blog. I’ve lived in Vermont for years but never was brave or bold enough to make jam (like all my neighbors). But, thanks to you, I am going to try.

  3. I just came across your jam making experience while looking for a particular variation on apricot jam. I loved your picture of the lemon! You are very funny. I hope you are still making jam, or still have that jar to look at.

  4. Adam,

    This is the first time I read your blogs. I must say, I’m hooked! I love to cook “gourmet” (specially brunch). I’m always looking for new, delicious and simple recipes.

    I truly enjoy reading your entertaining stories, and picking up a few recipe ideas while I’m at it! You should know, your blogsite now appears among my favorite sites (Barefoot Condessa, Food Network, Rach Ray, and Emeril!). You should feel proud! LOL

    If ever in need of some tasty and simple (even healthy!) Mexican recipes, mi cocina es su cocina!! =D

    Mass.

  5. Adam,

    This is the first time I read your blogs. I must say, I’m hooked! I love to cook “gourmet” (specially brunch). I’m always looking for new, delicious, and simple recipes.

    I truly enjoy reading your entertaining stories, and picking up a few recipe ideas while I’m at it! You should know, your blogsite now appears among my favorite sites (Barefoot Condessa, Food Network, Rach Ray, and Emeril!). You should feel proud! LOL

    If ever in need of some tasty and simple (even healthy!) Mexican recipes, mi cocina es su cocina!! =D

    Mass.

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