As attractive as summers are for gardeners, sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. Figuring out what to do with all the fruit and vegetable harvest coming from the backyard within a span of just a few months isn’t an easy job. If you have a huge apricot harvest to manage, the easiest way to do so is to freeze the fruits for now and turn them into jam later, once the peak harvest season subsides.
Once the apricots are safely in the freezer, you can preserve them as jams at your leisure. Most people like to utilize the less active winter months for these chores when there isn’t much to do outdoors. Read on and you’ll learn how to freeze apricot for jam so you won’t have to worry about it for months.
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When To Freeze Apricots?
There’s nothing worse than watching bowls of garden-fresh fruits go bad because you delayed freezing them. Alternatively, it isn’t easy to eat them all up either. Fresh, ripe apricots typically last for only up to 3 days on the counter. When stored in the fridge, they’ll last for up to 5 days. Instead of letting them rot, just keep enough for eating fresh as you can use up in a few days and freeze all the rest instantly.
The key to preserving the maximum flavors, nutrients and freshness is to freeze the apricots just after they are picked. Once they are harvested, like any other fruit or vegetable, apricots will start losing their freshness. Freeze them as soon as possible.
How To Freeze Apricots For Jam
Whether you have a big harvest to manage or have bought loads of fresh apricots at the farmer’s market, follow the instructions below to freeze apricots for making jam later:
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- Prepare Sugar Solution
Apricots are frozen dipped in a sugar solution. It prevents them from losing color and flavor. It also keeps them from drying, browning and suffering freezer burn. You’ll need enough sugar solution to cover the apricots, which makes up to 1 cup of solution for each quart of apricots. To prepare heavy sugar syrup, which is appropriate for making jam, you’ll need to heat 4 cups with 6 cups of water to prepare 7.4 cups of syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir continuously until all the sugar dissolves. Leave it aside to cool before adding apricots.
- Selection Of Apricots
Carefully select the best fruit for freezing. Make sure they’re fully ripe, mature, but still firm. Leave out any fruit that’s starting to rot or is even a little mushy. It’s good to include some green, unripe apricots since they have more pectin in them. Pectin helps in the setting of jam.
- Prepare Apricots
Wash the apricots. To remove the peels, dip the fruits in boiling water for about 40 seconds before scooping them out in a bowl of ice-cold water. Leave the fruits in cold water for several minutes before taking them out on a tray. Now the skin will slide off easily. This step is entirely optional. Many people prefer leaving the skin on for the rich texture it adds to the jam.
Once peeled, cut the apricots in halves and remove the pit. If the size of the apricot is bigger, you can cut the halves into further pieces. Peeling the apricots is entirely optional.
- Prevent Darkening
Soon after you’ve peeled and halved apricots, they’ll start darkening. Take them out in a bowl, sprinkle ¼ cup lemon juice on them. Give it a good mix to make sure all the surfaces of the fruits are covered. Alternatively, commercial products like Fruit-Fresh are also available to prevent fruit darkening. Use them in the same way as lemon juice.
- Mix In Sugar Solution
It’s time to add in the sugar solution that you prepared in the first step to the apricots. Make sure the solution is cool before pouring it into the fruit bowl. Mix it completely.
- Freeze The Mixture
Transfer the mixture to a suitably sized freezer container, leaving ½ inch of headspace, or use a ziploc bag. When using ziploc bag to freeze the mixture, try to fill it to its maximum capacity. Keeping it upright, push out all the excess air before sealing it. Label the bag or the container with the amount and date before popping it in the freezer.
How To Make Jam
Once the mixture is in the freezer, your harvest or farmer’s market’s purchase is secure for months. When you’re ready to make jam, just take it out of the freezer, thaw it and follow the recipe! The easiest way is given below:
- Take out the mixture in a large pot.
- Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Adjust the heat to a simmer, and let it simmer for 15 minutes, stirring almost continuously.
- At the end of the 15 minutes, dip a cold metal spoon in the mixture and lift it a foot above the pot. Turn the spoon sideways to check if the jam hangs down the edge of the spoon. That’s when it’s ready. If it’s not, you’ll have to cook it a little further before testing again.
- Remove it from heat and pick up all the foam with a spoon.
- Fill the jam into sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace.
- You can store them in refrigerator for 12 months.
So that’s how to freeze apricot for jam. Though there’s still a little preprocessing involved, you’re relieved of the hassle of cooking and stirring, which you can do later at your convienence. The same technique can be applied to plums and cherries if you don’t want to turn them into jam or jelly right away.