Apricot Riesling Jam

Please welcome Garrett McCord, who shares with us his latest jam recipe. ~Elise

I’m surprised that the food obsessed don’t consider Ernest Hemingway a proper food writer. Go pick up a copy of A Farewell to Arms or “Big Two-Hearted River” and pick any random page and the characters are either drinking or eating, though it’s more likely the former. He even titled his memoir, A Moveable Feast.

Recently I was working on a paper for a class in my Master’s program that was discussing the use of food and drink in Hemingway’s works as a form of escapism. Now after so much reading and writing I usually have to escape myself and do so through food, which proves once again that life imitates art (and academia, apparently). However after all this food lit. study I decided to see if I could cook up something inspired by Hemingway.

I decided to make a jam since Catherine in the novel A Farewell to Arms is pining for it as she crosses into Switzerland in a paddle boat in the middle of a storm to escape the Italian army. As for using apricots, Nick in “Big Two-Hearted River” downs a few cans of them in his pastoral journey for inner peace. Finally, since it was Hemingway I was dealing with, booze had to be used, no question. Finding a nice Riesling that paired well with the apricots I was all set to go. The result was a jam that I’m sure Catherine, Nick, Hemingway himself, or any literature lover will find perfect for smearing over some warm bread. The perfect accompaniment to your Summer reading.

Apricot Riesling Jam Recipe

  • Yield: Makes four 8 oz. jars.

Most of the alcohol cooks out and leaves a delightful flavor that I encourage you try, but if you don't want to use wine, just substitute with water. This recipe can be easily doubled; if doubling, use an 8-quart pot.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of chopped apricots, pits discarded*
  • 2 + 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of Riesling (or Gewürztraminer)
  • 5 tablespoons of lemon juice

Method

1 Place the apricots, sugar, wine, and lemon juice in a large (at least 4-qt), thick-bottomed, stainless steel pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Place a couple small plates in the freezer, these will be used to test the jam later.

2 The mixture will boil and rise in volume. Skim off the pale yellow foam that forms at the top and discard. The boil will subside to larger bubbles, but still bubble vigorously. Be sure to begin gently stirring the jam frequently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.

3 After about 25 minutes begin testing the jam by placing a small amount on a cold plate. Allow 30 seconds to pass and then run your finger through it to see what the cooled consistency will be. Boil for a few minutes longer if desired for a thicker jam.

4 Ladle into hot, sterilized canning jars** and seal leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Before applying the lids, sterilize the lids by placing them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them. Wipe the rims of the jars clean before applying the lids.

Will keep for up to a year.

* If you want, you can use a few of the kernels from the pits to give your jam a slight almond-y flavor. Roast the pits at 350 for about 10 minutes. Take them and crack them open with a hammer (do outside on concrete), and extract the kernel. Roast the "nuts" for a couple of minutes. Pop one or two in each sterilized jar when you pour the jam in.

** To sterilize the jars, rinse out clean Mason jars, dry them, and place them, without lids, upright in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.

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apricot-riesling-2.jpg

31 Comments

  1. Meilin

    You should call this “Hemingway Jam”. :-)

    For the most part, I do. ;) ~Garrett

  2. cosmic cowgirl

    I just recently started canning. This looks just divine. Would you recommend waterbath processing for safety?

    You can, but the amount of sugar in this keeps it pretty safe and sound for up to a year. The simple pop-the-top method here is fine. ~Garrett

  3. Iva

    You. Are. Amazing! I love Hemingway’s works and I agree that he certainly had an appreciation of fine food and food played an important role in the his books. This recipe idea is so well thought through, it is just brilliant.

  4. Clyde Kunkel

    Can peaches be substituted for the apricots?

    Never tried it, but sounds great. In the case of peaches be sure to blanch them quickly in hot water first for a few seconds, then pop them into ice water and remove the peaches’ skins which aren’t jam friendly. ~Garrett

  5. Gail

    I am intrigued by the book influenced recipe. A fictional character, Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, started me on Riesling, she drinks a particular brand, and I just had to try it…and now I’m hooked on trying them all! I’m book marking this recipe.

  6. retroknit

    As an interesting and slightly macabre side note, the apricot pits impart a slight almond-y flavor to the jam because they contain traces of cyanogenetic glycosides, which essentially turn into cyanide upon ingestion. (Almonds contain trace amounts of the same stuff, and bitter almonds contain lots of it – hence the flavor; Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera starts out with a cyanide/almond reference – IIRC, the first line is “It was inevitable – the smell of bitter almonds always reminded him of unrequited love.”)

    Roasting the apricot pits should get rid of most of the cyanogenetic glycoside, and it would take a fair number of whole, unroasted apricot pits to hurt a child (and many more to hurt an adult) – so putting one in the bottom of your jam jars should be just fine. But yep, it’s the teensiest bit of tasty, tasty cyanide that gives the jam that slight almond flavor.

    That’s why it’s an optional part of the recipe, and why they are roasted twice. The toxic enzyme is active only when it comes into contact with water. Roasting it destroys the enzyme. Interesting factoid: almond extract is made from apricot pits, not almonds. ~Garrett

  7. Elisabeth

    I loved your recipe, I found it last month and had to make it, though I couldn’t resist tweaking it a little for what I had on hand. Used a bunch of oranges as the base plus dried apricots, Riesling and a lemon. delicious chunky orange goodness.

  8. Carmen

    I really want to try this recipe, do you think raw cane sugar could be used, or better yet, stevia- if so how much? What could be used in place of the wine, I’m pregnant and avoiding alcohol? Thanx!

    The alcohol should cook out, but if you’re really concerned, try water. As for raw sugar or stevia I never used either. I would avoid any sugar substitutes like stevia as I have no clue how they might react or preserve the fruit. Give it a shot and let us know. ~Garrett

  9. Georgiaberry

    Sounds delicious – I want to try this with peaches instead of apricots – we can only get the occasional grocery store apricot, but fresh peaches are in season now in southern Arkansas.

    One of my favorite cookbooks for pure reading pleasure is by Hemingway’s granddaughter, Joan Hemingway. It is called “The Picnic Gourmet” and is out of print, but very enjoyable to peruse if you find it at a library. It includes a number of Hemingway family dishes.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  10. them apples

    I finished A Farewell to Arms recently, and I was also struck by the number of references to food in it.

    It’s a horrific – but brilliant – tale, and at points it sems incongruous for thoughts to turn to lunch or dinner, but such is the way of things. Amidst the horror, people yearn for the normal, for home comforts, to displace themselves from their predicament, just like Catherine and her jam. Hemingway knew this, because I suspect this is how he felt himself.

    Utter genius, and that looks like a first rate jam too.

  11. Joanne

    The jam sounds fantastic. I want to make jam but the whole ordeal of preparing the jars puts me off. Guess I need to make a small amount so I don’t have to do all that.
    This recipe is a great motivator to get me started.

    That’s how most people I think feel about jam. But really, the whole thing is just so effortless. My first time I was worried about sterilizing, but it all worked out even though I thought I messed up every step of the way. This is a great starter recipe. ~Garrett

  12. TexasDeb

    This looks just lovely – like summer in a jar. I’ve played around with a few attempts at canning jams, but never had a recipe that didn’t call for pectin or one that called for adding wine. I am so happy to have this! Thank you!

  13. Jerrie

    Have a question rather than a comment– how many pounds of apricots are needed to make the 5 cups? I am looking forward to making this!

    Not sure, I never really weighed them. I just happened to have friends with trees who unload insane amounts of apricots on me so I always have enough. I would guess four pounds-ish? ~Garrett

  14. mantha stoirmeil

    My all-time favorite preserve flavor — this is a lovely, simple recipe that I will try very soon. I think it will be heavenly warmed to get a bit syrupy, and then served over the very best quality vanilla bean ice cream.

    I love that apricot pit suggestion — reminds me of those old British mysteries, maybe one of Dorothy Sayers, where the murder is acomplished with the oily top layer that rises off noyeau, or bitter almond liqueur, which is supposed to be decanted properly before drinking to avoid poisoning. Or so they say.

    You can do out jars for canning with chlorine water too, if you don’t want to oven sterilize them or put them to a boiling water bath — I think it’s right that there’s too much sugar to let any mold take hold. Put the jars in a canning bucket, and pour boiling water from a big kettle over them, filling the jars, then add a quarter cup plain cholorine bleach to the gallon of water and let cool. Rinses right out of glass jars with no odor. Do out the metal caps with cholorine water and a little brush, rinse well, voila.

  15. Nicole

    Wow, this sounds delicious! I’ve been wanting to try to make jam for the last few weeks – maybe this weekend I’ll give this one a shot!

  16. Allison

    This was delicious! I actually used some of it over bonesless spare ribs and baby bokchoy. No leftovers!

  17. Elise

    This was delicious. I made it this past Sunday. I will definitely make again. I can’t wait to give two of my jars to family. My only comment is I boiled it for under 25 minutes, and I only got three small jars worth. I think there were like 5 oz jars, not 8 oz. Did I boil it too long or too high? Also I did buy 4 pounds of apricots which was way too much for 5 cups. Maybe 2 1/2 pounds or 3 pounds would suffice? Sorry, I forgot to count the number of apricots. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!
    -Elise Lafosse

    Jam turns out different every time since the fruit each season and from tree to tree is different. Don’t worry too much. Sometimes it just happens. This recipe gave me only three jars once, and five another, yet I never change a thing except the fruit. ~Garrett

  18. Linds

    I used peaches and champagne instead of apricots and Riesling, and it was still delicious!

  19. Katie

    This is the best apricot jam I’ve ever had! I was a bit dissapointed that I only got two jars, but the taste is amazing. Any other super easy jam recipes would be fantastic.

  20. dccmom1

    Do you peel the apricots? I can’t wait to go back to the store so I can make this!

    No need to peel the apricots. ~Elise

  21. Amy Artisan

    In a word, wow! Since the golden plums were so sweet & plentiful at the farmer’s market I planned to make it with plums instead. Then, I discovered that I didn’t have any Riesling wine at home (that was a surprise) so I went with the Gewürztraminer I had on hand. I got about 5 1/2 cups of Golden Plum Gewürztraminer Jam from the batch. I canned 3 cups of it into 4 oz jars – went ahead with the hot water bath because they didn’t seem to seal. This was my first time canning & I’m so pleased with how it turned out!

  22. Alison

    This was really good; thanks for posting it!

  23. Heidi

    This stuff is so good it makes me smile when I eat it. I changed nothing and used a Riesling from Buckingham Valley Vineyards in Pa.

    My boyfriend had sent me the recipe because it had Riesling in it and that is my favorite wine.
    Thank you for this!

  24. mantis

    Interesting facts about the apricot pits and cyanide; cool! My first time jam making session and I couldn’t have picked a better flavored jam, simply delicious and most intriguing concept on how you formulated and made the recipe up.

  25. Martha

    I have an apricot tree and just didn’t know what to do with so many apricot. I ate three to five a day, gave them out to friends and family and I still had two bags full. I didn’t want them to go bad so my husband suggested apricot jam (duh, why didn’t I think of that). Anyhow, the only reason I chose yours was because it was the easiest one I found online. It turns out it’s also the yummiest. I love it! Thanks!

  26. Heidi

    Wait…I am making this again at the moment and you don’t have to peel the apricots?

    Apricot skins are super thin. No need to peel them at all for this jam. ~Garrett

  27. Stephanie Johnson

    I just bought my apricots! Just a couple questions: Can I use tupperware instead of jars and do the freezer method (sealing lid, sitting out for 24hrs, freezing)? Also, no pectin needed? Thank you so much!

    1.Sure, go rigt ahead, though if you apply the tops quickly you’ll get a vacuum seal and they should keep just fine (ideally, you can also do a waterbath). 2. No pectin needed. This gets cooked a lot longer than most jams so it gets quite thick on it’s own. ~Garrett

  28. Kimberly Schena

    This is a great recipe! It is utterly delicious. I cooked it for 38 minutes to get a thicker consistency and added 1/4 tsp of almond extract. I love that you don’t have to peel the apricots.

  29. Robinson

    I’ve never been fan of Hemingway, but this jam looks lovely. I will definitely be trying it when apricots come into season.

    I just wanted to note, after reading through the comments, that the USDA has recommended against ‘open-kettle’ canning for some time.

    Robinson, I read that from the USDA, too. However, people have been canning tis way for a really long time. I think if you do it carefully and thoughtfully and toss batches that spoil then you should be fine. ~Garrett

  30. Lauri H T

    Amazingly wonderful. I used Fetzer Vineyard’s Gewurztraminer. The apricots were a tad dry so next time I will add a little more wine =). My first time making jam. It won’t be the last. Love the site and have recommended it to friends.

  31. Jomama

    This is ah-mazing!! Such an easy recipe that everyone in the family loved (a rare thing!)….I will make Hemingway Jam every year! Thanks!

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