Apricot jam DSC0126

How to make apricot jam

They say third time’s the charm and it was for me in my attempt at making jam. And, oh, what a jam! I made possibly the best-ever apricot jam.

The first time I tried making jam was last summer. I had a big batch of bruised strawberries and so I made a strawberry jam, following the directions on the pectin box. I must not follow directions very well because what I ended up with was a thick gummy blob. The flavor was good but the texture was just wrong.

So traumatized by my first-foray into the jam-making world, I didn’t gather enough courage to try again until a few weeks ago. This time, I followed a friend’s instructions for freezer jam with a huge haul of sour cherries. But again, I failed, as I let the mixture boil too long. After the jam cooled in the jar what I had was a rock-solid piece of candy, which wasn’t very appropriate for spreading on toast.

I am not one to give up, however, and last weekend when I saw a gorgeous display of apricots at the farmers’ market, I decided to try making jam one more time.

I asked the farmer for advice on making apricot jam, and she told me that the key to making jam was to not over think it. I’m certainly guilty of over thinking things, so that was wisdom I could use. I then asked her if she had any other advice and she said, “People who don’t use Sure-Jell are snobs!”

Apricot jam | Homesick Texan

Well, that was not what I wanted to hear! I have no problem with Sure-Jell, but after my pectin disaster last summer I wanted my jam to have a softer set, so I asked her if it was possible to make a decent jam without it. “Of course,” she replied. “Just make sure you have enough sugar.

How much is enough sugar? I heard everything from a one-to-one ratio of sugar to uncooked fruit to a 3/4-to-one ratio of sugar to uncooked fruit. Wanting to keep my jam slightly tart, I went with the latter.

After slicing my apricots and removing the pits, I measured how much I had and then threw them in a large pot. I added 3/4 cup of sugar for every cup of sliced fruit and one tablespoon of lemon juice per cup of fruit. To later test for doneness, I place a plate in the freezer.

I placed the pot on a burner, turned the heat to medium low and stirred the mixture every few minutes. It became juicy. And then the fruit began to turn to mush. There was foam, but I just kept stirring. After about an hour, the mixture was like a thick sauce, with a few small chunks of fruit but for the most part soft and smooth.

Thinking that the jam looked good and not wanting it to get too overcooked, I took out my plate from the freezer and plopped a dollop of jam on it to see if it was ready. After a minute, I turned the plate to see if it ran, and the jam did. So I cooked it for five more minutes and then repeated the frozen-plate test. This time, the jam stayed solid. The jam was done.

Apricot jam | Homesick Texan

I packed it into sterilized jars, putting a chopped chipotle with one teaspoon of adobo sauce into one of the jars for the most incredible spicy-sweet jam, and then put my jars in the refrigerator. And the next morning I had the most beautifully set, tart and fragrant apricot jam to put on my peanut-butter toast.

Now, I’m sure that there are more scientific methods out there that employ thermometers and timers, but I found this method worked fine for me. But I’m still just a beginner, so please let me know in the comments what tips you have for making jam, so we can all become better at this age-old preservation process!

5 from 1 vote

Apricot jam

Servings 1 pint
Author Lisa Fain


  • 1 pound sliced apricots, pitted
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest


  • Place the apricots, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a pot, and add a couple of tablespoons of water.
  • Place a plate into the freezer.
  • Turn the heat to medium low, and stirring every 5 minutes or so, let the fruit cook. It will first get juicy with the fruit intact, and then the fruit will start to disintegrate. As it cooks, there will be foam on top, but just keep stirring, don’t worry about skimming it.
  • After about 30 minutes, the jam will be about 2 or 3 shades darker and will be smooth and thick, with a few lumps here and there. When it coats the back of a spoon, take out the plate from the freezer and place a dollop of the jam on the plate. If it runs, cook it for five more minutes and then test it again. But if becomes solid, then the jam is done.
  • Place in a sterilized half-pint jar(s).
  • When it comes to room temperature, put on the lid and then place in the refrigerator. After a few hours it will be more solid and ready for eating.


If you want to jazz up the flavor, you can add chipotle chiles in adobo, cloves, a cinnamon stick, or a vanilla bean while it cooks. The key, that I’ve learned, is to not over cook it. But if you do, and the next day you find that you have a jar of rock-hard candy instead of jam, all is not lost! You can place the jar into a pot of water and let it come to a boil. The jam will heat up and become liquid, and then you can slowly add more water to it until it’s more runny. Try the freezer test again and then repack it. (This is how I eventually saved my sour-cherry jam).

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I'm not real big on apricots, but dang that looks good. My sister and I made fig jam, raspberry-fig jam, and strawberry-fig jam this year (big fig crop from a couple of scrawny trees) and added a teaspoon of butter to each batch to cut down on the foam. Buddy, it worked like a charm.

  2. For apricots, I use half a cup of sugar per 1 cup of apricots. Apricots are naturally full of pectin. Keeping the sugar amount down helps make the jam tart.

    I also use a hand-held blender at the very end to dissolve the left over chunks. I prefer smooth jam.

  3. Anonymous says:

    My grandma used to make apricot jam every summer. I was spending every single summer with her and I have some memories of it. I really liked that she used to put the nuts from the pit in the jam. I was always asking her to save the pits for me because I like to crack and eat them, and she started putting them in the jam at some point. Whole. Maybe one out of 10 or out of 20 would be bitter, and I would spit it, but if they go in the jam, you can't really know. After the jam is made the best part still is to pick all the nuts in there with a teaspoon. The other thing she does is put cream of tartar in the jam at the end after it has reached a setting point I think. This prevents it from crystallizing when all you are using is sugar.

  4. herebutforfortune says:

    Arlene and others inhibited from canning by concerns about botulism, I relate to and would like to assure by passing along what experts – FDA et al – say about botulism that makes it safe to can, even badly, the above recipe.

    Botulism spores are present on almost all produce but only grow toxic in anaerobic, alkaline environments, hence the danger of improperly canned vegetables and meats, and even bottled oils to which you've added a sprig of some herb.

    The worst able to grow in improperly canned acidic [below pH 4] environments is said to be mold, which, unlike botulism, is both visible to the naked eye AND nontoxic. (Penicillin, for one mold, is partial to citrus.)

    Reportedly, as with hard cheeses, frugal cooks customarily scrape off the mold atop fruit preserves-gone-moldy and eat what's beneath – that's how safe if unappetizing, experts say it is to eat preserved fruits – but only fruits as commonly defined. Botanically defined fruits such as squash and pumpkin, for two, are NOT free of botulism risk when canned wrong.

    Hope this helps 🙂

  5. I just made this apricot yam recipe and it turned out perfectly! It was also my first time making jam. Thanks for this recipe; it's was super easy and I will try other jams this way. I live in NM and just discovered your blog. Love it…