When I stumbled upon a recipe for a preserve called Ambrosia Jam, I just knew I had to make it. The name was just so tempting and the ingredients were full of promise. It was a surprise to find a recipe for pineapple, apricot and orange jam in my old Women’s Institute Preserves & Pickles book as it is way more exotic than anything else in there! Full of tropical fruity flavours, this luminescent orange coloured jam will whisk you away to foreign holidays with a cocktail in your hand and the sun on your shoulders. Perfect for the rubbish summer we’re having in the UK this year.
For all it’s exoticism, this jam is quite frugal to make as you may expect from a book written in 1978. The original advices using a can of crushed pineapple and dried apricots soaked overnight – did you know that dried apricots soak up so much water they return to their original size after a mere 12 hours soaking in cold water? Bananas! I was quite surprised to see these glowing pale but plumptious apricots bobbing in my jug when I came downstairs the first time I tried this, lol.
Jam making is such a summery activity. Although more usual to use excess ripe fruit in the height of it’s season than dried and canned fruit, the good thing about this particular jam is you can whip up a batch on the coldest January day with ingredients from your store cupboard. Do read my Strawberry, Lime & Vanilla Jam recipe post for an explanation of the science of jam making.
Take a peak at my Bing Cherry Jam for a very relaxed method to make it for when you feel comfortable with jam making. I’ve made jams with and without a thermometer and in the end, I think it comes down to personal preference which you go for. It can be an extra reassurance if you are new to jam making though and I wholeheartedly recommend a trustworthy thermometer like a Thermapen which will come in handy for many other uses than jam – soft set fudge anyone?
Once you’ve filled a few jars with this glowing amber Ambrosia Jam then a few suggestions would be to replace the raspberry or cherry jam in a Bakewell and make a tropical version instead. Or just fill my Vanilla Yogurt Cake or a traditional Victoria Sponge with it. Or ooo, pimp up your Custardy Jam Muffins with a spoonful of sunshine to brighten up your breakfast. And one last thing – a couple of tablespoons of Malibu, a white coconut rum, stirred in to the fully cooked jam will only be a very, very good thing :D
- 500 g dried apricots soaked in lots of cold water for upto 24 hours
- 350 g crushed pineapple from a can* drained
- Zest and juice of an orange
- Zest and juice of a lemon
- Caster sugar
Make sure you soak your apricots a good 12-24 hours before using and remember, they will swell up to pretty much their original volume so use a very large bowl or jug to do so. Drain well.
If using canned crushed pineapple drain it through a fine sieve. If using fresh pineapple, chop into chunks and together with the apricots, chop them extremely finely with a very sharp knife until no large or sharp pieces remain. It is much quicker to do this by pulsing in a food processor but I have done it by hand. If using the FP then pulse it and stop before it turns into a purée.
Scrape the finely chopped pineapple and apricot into a large bowl then add zest and juice of the orange and lemon. If you have a digital scale it is helpful to zero the bowl on the scale so you can weigh all the fruit easily.
Once you know the weight of the fruit, scrape it all into a very large saucepan or preserving pan then weigh out an equivalent amount of sugar. You can reduce this to 70% of the weight of the fruit and it will still set if you prefer.
Stir the sugar and fruit well then once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up to high and bring the pan of fruit to a rolling boil. Do not leave it's side. Stir frequently to ensure none sticks and burns on the bottom of the pan.
Keep at the rolling boil stage, adjusting the temperature of your hob as needed. Keep on stirring and what you are looking for is the fruit to evaporate off enough liquid that the mixture becomes heavy on your spoon - about 20-25 minutes for this liquid to begin with jam. Look for "flakes" forming i.e. when you lift your spatula out, the jam will fall off in flakes back into the pan, rather than a steady liquid stream. Another good test is to take the jam off the heat, place a teaspoonful onto a cold plate and leave for a few minutes then push your finger through it - if it ripples and wrinkles, mostly holding this shape, then it is ready. A final test is to take the temperature of the jam and if it reaches 105°C it is ready.
Once the setting point has been achieved, ladle your jam into sterilised** jars and seal immediately. Leave to cool completely before using.
*= make sure to drain the pineapple if using a can. If not, you can substitute for 350g fresh pineapple which you can pulsed in a food processor until it makes a fine mulch with no large or sharp pieces remaining.
**= I sterilise my jars by putting them through the dishwasher on the hot cycle and using whilst still warm.
Adapted from The Women's Institute Book of Preserves & Pickles
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