Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Great Apricot Jam Affair on Planet Baby

Hello, sweet Planetarians – after all the excitement of the Wooden Boat Festival and the Regatta, life on Planet Baby has slowed down to a gentler pace. It’s given us time to visit my parents’ house to introduce the pixies to a treasured childhood activity – picking apricots from their garden. For weeks, Pa had been keeping them up-to-speed on their ripeness so the excitement was building. Finally, the big day arrived. I’ll let the photos tell the story.

Here is one of my parents’ apricot trees. It’s at least 30 years old. My childish hands have picked many a juicy, orange orb from it. And now it was the pixies’ turn! Nanna took the ceremonial photo before the work began.
Joshie was the first up Pa’s ladder, held firmly by Mr PB.
He was an industrious picker, rarely stopping for a break. And proud as punch of his efforts as well!
Then Miss India had a rare ‘girly’ photo with Mummy. Notice her smile for Nanna!
She then commenced picking the low-lying fruit. More her height and no scary ladder to negotiate on a hill. Sensible child!
And then, of course, Quicksilver Sam wanted to get in on the action!
So up the trusty ladder he climbed with Mummy’s help.
And then realised that is was a little *too* complicated. So down he climbed again.

So home to Planet Baby we tootled with laden buckets of lusciousness. Then Mr PB consulted Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion and hit pay dirt – her beloved and time-tested recipe. Not owning a jam pan (unlike my mother – I must hunt a vintage one down as new ones cost a fortune), we cooked it in an ordinary frypan.
Not owning a nut cracker (they’d sold out all over Hobart as jam making has apparently become the activité du jour for us Generation Xers now!), Joshie resorted to cracking the kernels with his little hammer.

We scavenged an array of glass jars – no fancy set of matching ones yet. Maybe next year. Then Mr PB and India set to work.
Mr PB ladled the golden goodness into the jars and then India pasted the plastic film on their tops, secured by rubber bands.
Then I stepped up with my mother’s borrowed pinking shears and my mother-in-law’s fabric offcuts. Here’s the end result.
Yep, we’re pretty proud of these little beauties, it being our first effort. And they passed the pixies’ taste test with flying colours (which is a huge endorsement in this family!).

We were so enthused, we branched out with strawberry jam.
And cherry plum jam. Hmm, I don’t think we’ll be buying jam for a long time!
Mr PB is quite getting *into* the whole jam making palaver. I just did the pretty bits at the end of the messy and labour-intensive process. I suspect this may not be the end of Planet Baby’s jam-making season! 

So, I’d love to know - have you made any jam this summer? Have you pulled out a splattered but time-worn family recipe? Or is jam just not your thing? Do jump in and share – I’m interested to see if this ‘oldie but a goodie’ still has a future today.


  1. Well. I very much like the idea of making jam. But. The reality is I am never likely to do it. I am seriously impressed by yours though :)

  2. Hi Jane!
    ...proud as punch, that's a new one for me, like it! As you may have guessed, my jam making skills are none to zero, cause I never have tried it before, so if you want to get rid of some...just saying... Love that sunshine in your photo's, sigh...
    Hugs from me to you!

  3. Wow! I'm in awe! I've never attempted jam. Maybe if I had a fruit tree, I'd be inspired. That's it, I'm planting a fruit tree this spring!

  4. Beautiful Jane.
    Unfortunately the only fruit that really thrives in our tropical clime are mangoes and citrus! Not much of a marmalade eater I can't see myself making jam anytime soon.
    Apricot is by far my favourite though. Lovely to have the kids involved.

  5. Jane how wonderful that the tradition is carried on and how gratifying for your parents' souls. Apricots make bountiful quantities of jam but in case you'd like to branch out here is the link to my Grandmother's Ripe Tomato Marmalade that was my favourite as a little girl.
    A great way to use up the glut of tomatoes at the moment too. Happy jamming.

  6. Yum! Boy, that's a lot of jam! I made apricot but yours looks so much richer than mine. I think the variety of apricots makes a difference. I also made raspberry and it's delicious. I don't have a recipe, I just go by what people have told me :)

  7. What a fabulous idea, Jane... very industrious! The only possible fruit for jam here would be prickly pear... not good. An orchard of sorts is step #85 at SJW! gxo

  8. What a precious experience for everyone to share together.
    It was wonderful to read that PB Pa had been building the children's excitement prior to the harvest as I know some children would be totally 'meh' over this. Clearly not at PB and rightly so! The smell, the soft downy apricot fur and the taste, ah the taste!

    Apricots definitely are a cooler clime fruit and I miss them dearly.
    Both my mother and Grandmother were terrific 'preservers' and 'picklers' coming 'off the land' and I used to love eating Grandma's preserved fruit with creamy ice-cream and a wafer biscuit.
    We had an apricot tree in our backyard when I was little and remember Mum not only making jam but stewing them in a light juice and freezing them in little round Tupperware containers for me to have in my school lunchbox - a true favourite.

    Just this weekend, I visited Mum & Dad and was delighted when Mum brought out a brand new jar of Quince Jam which even had a big lump of wax inside to seal it - you don't see that very often these days!

    Thank you so much for this delightful post, you sent me skipping down memory lane and off to the kitchen to make some toast and jam.

    xxxx Felicity

  9. Hi Jane,

    I love making Jams and Jellies - if your interested my Plum and apple Jelly recipe is over on my blog. Anyway, we will soon be making Quince Jelly once the first frosts have come. This year the tree is loaded. We've had a couple of slack seasons. But, I'm looking forward to Quinces products of all kinds.

    Blackberries are the thing of the moment and The Farmer's Mum is busily making yummy Blackberry Jam, Stewed Blackberries for the freezer and Blackberry Pies.

    Don't you just love this time of year!

    Deb xxx

  10. Oh yum nothing beats homemade jam.

    Your kids look like they had a wonderful time.

    Can I ask what do you crack the kernels for?

  11. I have such deliciously fond childhood memories of the apricot trees in my grandfathers back garden. Thank you for sharing your memory making :)

  12. I'm impressed Planet Baby family you've done a great job together, the jam looks delicious. I haven't made jam this summer much but when strawberries were cheap I made a few batches, that didn't last long at all. Jam making is fun and really rewarding, it's definitely a keeper in our house. Enjoy that yummy jam. xo

  13. How beautiful your jars are, and I love the sound of strawberry and cherry.
    Don't worry about having too many, there's no such thing I've found, and they are so nice to give away.

  14. Mm, looks delicious and I am very impressed with how industrious you have been with the pixies helping.
    What a great family tradition!
    I love homemade jam, but have not made any before. (I leave that to my hubby.)
    Now all you need are some home baked scones with jam and cream. Now that would be delicious!

  15. I've never made jam in my life. Looks delicious, though. What a lovely thing for you all to do. Love the photos.

  16. What a gorgeous team effort, from the picking to the making on the stove to the decorated jars. Lovely!

    I'm a 'new' jam maker, I only started making jam once we moved to Tassie, it always seemed so complicated, for example, I thought you needed to sterilise jars. But Nigella Lawson, in her infinite wisdom (and her love of a short cut) advised me that hot and dry from the dishwasher is good enough. Much more approachable for me.

    I don't have a jam boiler, but I use my enormous stock pot. It makes it a snap as the jam mixture only comes about a third of the way up the sides, so no splattering mess and it's easy to ladle the jam out too. Just give me a hoy if you're making another batch and it's yours.

  17. Can't say I've EVER made jam, let alone this Summer. BUT, I love the traditions that are coming through in this post, Jane. The simple getting together of generations to do what they've always done. That's contentment right there. x

  18. Wow, all the little jars of jam you made look so cute sitting together. What a fun activity picking all those apricots too. I've never actually made jam myself before.

  19. My parents garden is full of stone fruit, so I grew up jam making. SA's apricot jam recipe is the best and we use it every year. I have never used a proper jam pan either. I just improvise with various pots and pans. x

  20. THIS is DIVINE. I just love that your hands picked apricots from the same tree that your little ones now are picking from the same tree. A lovely connection, a very special tree indeed. And, I do want a jar of that jam!

  21. Hi Jane! Just wanted to say thanks for joining my nice to have someone from Tassie! Never been over although I lived in Melbourne for years. Terrible of me. Now looking forward to reading all about your life down under.

  22. Jane, we need you here in Brisbane for the jam stall at the school fête!
    I had never attempted to make jam until a few years ago. Then I was sort of cajoled into making some for the fête and loved it. Last year we sold over 800 jars! It seems that home made jam and chutney is the "in" thing! I now collect jars throuought the year in anticipation of the marathon jam making month of April. Lovely memories for you all with those photos. x

  23. Oh yummo. Check out you stripey girls too!! You can see how we are desperate for farm life, ahhhh, love Posie

  24. Making sweet jam, and even sweeter familiy memories!
    xo Cathy

  25. Yumm! You should sell some! It looks like a fun family activity too.

  26. I loved reading about your jam making efforts. I have made plenty of jam before but not for a while now. Tropical fruits aren't quite the same for me. I have become a Planetarian..I nearly thought I was a planetarium!..I would love you to come and visit me too sometime..I look forward to getting to know you better!

  27. High Five Jane & Mr. PB - outstanding job! MOTH's the jam maker here, this Summer he's done Plum & Port, Apricot & Galliano & Blackberry & Muscat - yes, you do detect a certain theme going on here! Please don't do the matching jars thing, it's the sign of a Jam Nazi!
    Millie x

  28. My goodness, I am impressed Jane! What a magnificent supply you have now. Looks delicious too! A-M xx

  29. Yum, Jane! I'm a little behind in my reading. The jam looks wonderful. I think this is such a wonderful experience you are giving your children. They will remember picking apricots and making jam as a cherished family memory and may even blog about it one day.

  30. Jane, your post took me back to my childhood and the apricot tree in our back yard! There is nothing yummier than home made jam... YUMMY! Loved the pics of your treasures... they are so gorgeous.

    Have a happy, happy weekend.


    PS - thanks for your lovely comments x

  31. The thing is, I have always, ALWAYS wanted to make am! I even bought gorgeous labels from Mozi about 4 years ago specifically for that purpose. But, my fruit trees are somewhat lacklustre... and so it seems am I!! I am v impressed by your efforts, I don't suppose you want to send me a jar so I can spread my toast vicariously domestic-goddessy through you?

  32. Yum! I still remember cleaning fruit and making jam and bottled fruit with my grandmother back in the 70's. One day I shall make jam again.... Thank you for the inspiration!

  33. Oh, my! I had no idea this post would elicit such interest and bring back such fond childhood memories for so many of you. I am chuffed.

    Fiona, I hear you! My parents are great marmalade eaters but not me.

    Thanks for the fab recipe, Tanya - I've bookmarked it to show to Mr PB.

    Kate, as I understand it, the kernels contain pectin which helps the jam set. We didn't need to use Jamsetta.

    Thanks for noticing the aesthetics, Susie!

    Kat, you may just end up taking some jars home soon!

    Thanks, Sarah - we need to compare notes.

    Denise, I would send you some but I don't think the glass would travel interstate very well ☺.

    Beth, you are a legend. That is amazing. Good for you!

    Hi Carol Thanks for hopping aboard - I've now returned the favour.

    Ooh, Millie, you're setting the bar high there. I'll have to word Mr PB up on the MOTH's high standards! And on reflection, I agree - having a motley range of jars would add 'character'.

    Oh, Nicole, it's really quite easy. I've emailed you the recipe - give it a go!

    Hi Dorothy Thanks for hopping aboard. Do post some photos if you make some jam!

    J x

  34. I made quince jelly from a neighbour's crop last year, and I will be pounding on her door in a couple of months for her harvest! Quince jelly was great as it can be used like a jam as well as being good with meats (eg in place of red currant jelly).

  35. Mmm, quince jelly is yummy, _vTg_. We used to make it with my grandmother's fruit - a lovely memory. Thanks for becoming a Planetarian! J x

  36. Jane - I've made dozens of jars of jam and jelly in the last few years, thanks to my mother-in-law, who taught me how. I think my favorite is grape jelly, made from homegrown grapes. I've also made apricot, strawberry, raspberry, mixed berry (with blackberries strawberries and blueberries), strawberry peach, and plain peach. Also peach butter (like apple butter) and cherry jelly. Can you tell that I like to can?

    Out of curiosity, can you not get the metal lids for your jars? They are very nice and easy, and help the jam keep for quite a long while....even over a year. I highly recommend them!

  37. Oh, Val, you're a legend! What a delicious array of treats you have waiting for you.

    It's funny - when I was growing up, the way my Mum (and most Australians for that matter) did it was to use these little Fowler's Vacola cellophane sheets which you can see India wetting which you then stretch over the top of the jar and seal with a rubber band. If you read here, people are discussing their use.

    Given they're so cheap, easy to use and my parents rarely had any jam spoil using them, we've done the same.

    I know there are sets out now with metal lids but this year was our budget attempt, using recycled jars - maybe next year, we can try out the metal lids!

    J x

  38. Jane, I'm linking this post to a recipe for apricot-pork tenderloin on Facebook today. I sometimes do more on Facebook than I do my blog. I thought of this post when I decided to share the recipe. It's so easy..
    Jar of apricot jam, jar of honey mustard, rub over pork tenderloin and bake at 350 degrees for an 55 minutes or so. Leigh


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, you gorgeous soul. You've just made my day! J x

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