Apricot halves in vanilla syrup
Right now I can’t really get my head around the idea that at some point it will be winter in Dunedin again. Summer has been pure magic lately. We have been treated to day after day of premium quality kiwi sunshine. If there are two things that really define summer food they are BBQ’s and summer fruit. Rest assured I won’t be standing out in a blasting southerly trying to turn a couple of saussies come July, but I will be dining on beautiful Central Otago summer fruit, carefully preserved to give a ray of sunshine on the dreariest winters day.
A few years ago I picked up an Agee preserver and some jars on Trade Me. She makes the preserving process so easy – I highly recommend you try and find one if you really want to get into preserving at home. I’m sure there must be thousands of these old girls lying around, retired to the back of the garage and forgotten thanks to the abundance of convenient, imported canned fruit. There is no comparison in both flavour and quality, so give it a try and I’m sure, like me you will be hooked.
Makes 5-6 Large (1L) Jars--
3 kg ripe but firm apricots
9 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean per jar
Agee Jars, lids and bands
1. Wash, dry, half and de-stone the apricots.
2. Combine the sugar and water in a large pot, bring to a gentle simmer and stir untill all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.
3. Sterilise jars by washing thoroughly and placing in a 120˚C oven for at least 15 minutes.
4. Pack the apricots and vanilla beans into jars allowing a 12mm headspace. (The apricots should be packed tightly as shrinkage occurs during the preserving process).
5. Sterilise lids and bands by simmering in a pot of water for 5 minutes.
6. Top jars up to the brim with syrup.
7. Used a sterilised table knife to carefully release any trapped air pockets.
8. Place on lid and screw band, and loosely screw the band up.
9. Place in preserver and fill with water ¾ of the way up the jars.
10. Turn thermostat to 83˚C (180˚F) and remove jars using jar tongs after 1 hour and 10 minutes.
11. Screw bands on tightly and place on a rack to cool.
12. Once cool, check the jar has sealed properly, wash any sticky residue of jar and label.
13. Use within 12 months.