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These gourmet preserves find the right balance between tart and sweet and can be used in a variety of recipes ranging from sweet or savory.

I first made these preserves for a specific savory recipe and feel in love with them. They maintain a wonderful texture and are simple to make. I hope you enjoy these preserves as much as my family and I do. 

Step 1: Gathering Your Materials

Equipment

You'll need a basic canning kit. This includes:

- Wide mouth funnel
- Jar Lifter
- Magnetic Lid Lifter
- Bubble remover/ Head Space Gauge

The first two are the most important however, I purchased all of them for around $7. 

You will need a canning rack with the lifting attachments.

Additionally you will need: 

- A small sauce pot
- A large canning pot (or regular pot permitting it fits your canning rack) 
- A large sauce pot
- A wooden spoon
- Ladle

You will need 6 - 250 mL jars with snap lids and screw bands. If you are purchasing jars new they should come with the snap lids and the screw bands. If you are reusing jars be sure to purchase new snap lids as these should not be reused.

Ingredients
 
- approx. 4 lbs apricots (5 cups, prepared)
- approx. 4 tart apples (2 cups, prepared)
- granulated sugar (2 cups)
- liquid honey (1/2 cup)
- lemon juice (2 tbsp)
 - Optional: brandy  (1 cup) or Riesling wine (I would suggest 1/2 cup)

Step 2: Prepare Your Materials

Ingredients  

1. Wash* apricots then pit and slice them. Measure 5 cups and set aside. Peel, core and chop apples. Measure 2 cups and set aside** .
2. Combine all ingredients excluding Riesling/Brandy in a large saucepan. Let stand 40 mins.  

Equipment

1. Place your canning rack in the bottom of your pot. Place your jars into your pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer (180 F/ 82 C).
2. Set screw bands aside. Heat snap lids in hot water (not boiling). Keep both hot until ready to use.

 * I washed my apricots with a small about of lemon juice to help remove any impurities.
** The recipe which i used called for 4 tart apples, however I only needed 1 and two thirds of an apple to reach 2 cups chopped. 

Step 3: Making Your Preserves

Ingredients

1. Bring fruit to a full boil stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Boil gently uncovered for about 20-30 minutes, the longer you boil the fruit mixture the thicker your preserves will be.

  At this point you can see if it had reached gel stage by placing a small amount of preserves on a frozen plate and seeing if the mixture separates when a knife is dragged across it. If it does separate it has reached gel stage. I usually "play it by ear" when making these preserves as you can visually see the change the fruit mixture undergoes while you cook it. 

2. Remove from heat and skim off any foam. If you are using brandy or wine add it now and return to heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.*

*I forgot to account for the tartness of the wine and added 1 cup wine. As a result my preserves came out a little more tart than I had hoped. 


Step 4: Jarring Your Preserves

1. Carefully remove a jar from the canning pot. I suggest handling the jar with a dishtowel to prevent burning yourself. 

2. Place the large mouthed funnel into the jar and quickly ladle the hot preserves into the jar withing 1/4 inch from the top (this is where the head space gauge comes in handy). Add or remove preserves as necessary. 

3.Using a non-metallic utensil (The head space gauge/bubble remover) remove any air bubbles from the jar. 

 4. Wipe the rim to removed any food residue and center the hot snap lid on the clean jar rim (use the magnetic lid tool to remove the  snap lid from the pot of simmering water.

5. Screw the band down until resistance is met, then increase to finger tip tight.

6. Return to canner and repeat with remaining jars. 

7. If you have any preserves left over just spoon them into a small ramekin or bowl and enjoy!

 Note: The recipe should make 6 250 mL jars, but I found that this is all dependent on the ripeness of the apricots. This batch made 3 250 mL jars and one 500 mL jar. Last years batch only made 4 250 mL jars.

Step 5: Processing Your Preserves

1. When your canner is full ensure that there is at least an inch of water covering the jars. Cover the pot and bring to a full roiling boil before you count processing time. 

2. For altitudes up to 1000 ft process for 10 minutes. After processing is complete remove lid from your canner and and wait five minutes. 

3. Remove the jars without tilting and place on a protected surface. Cool undisturbed for 24 hours.

4. After cooling is completed check the seals on the jars. Sealed jar lids will curve downward and will not move when pressed. 

5. Remove screw bands and wipe jars clean.

Step 6: Enjoying Your Preserves

After you have wiped down the jars you may replace the screw bands or cover the snap lids with a decorative swatch of fabric fastened with a piece of ribbon or twine.

Finally label your preserves and consume within one year.

 Here is an awesome example of free printables available on-line that you can use to label your jam . This site also offers canning themed printables for a canning party! 

Happy Canning! :)

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