Going Ape for Apricot Preserves

Apricot Jam

I’m absolutely crazy for stone fruit. From the moment the first cherries come in, I quiver in anticipation of what’s to follow: sweet-tart plums and pluots, gushingly juicy peaches. I most look forward to the apricots, seductive and demure.

I could eat a bushel of them right out of hand, but apricot jam is my favorite, bar none, so every year I hunker down and make a bunch. Apricots don’t need much; their flavor blooms as you cook them down, but they also take nicely to a little spice. A few peppercorns, some cardamom, perhaps half a stick of cinnamon all bundled into a cheesecloth sachet will leave a subtle undertone to your jam. But if you want to create something special, crack open a few of the apricot pits and toss the kernels into the sachet.

The noyaux (nwa-yo), as they are called, look like little almonds, and in fact leave a faint, haunting almond-like flavor in the jam. The reason for this is mildly alarming:

cyanide.

All stone fruit of the genus prunus, including apricots, peaches and cherries, produce some cyanide in their seeds and stems. Eaten in excess, apricot pits can absolutely be harmful, but Europeans have been using them as flavoring agents in everything from jams to baked goods for centuries. Just keep the pits in your sachet, which will be removed at the end.

Besides, it’s good to live dangerously once in a while.

Apricot Jam Recipe with Noyaux, Spices and Bourbon

7 cups apricots, coarsely chopped, pits reserved
5 cups sugar
1 lemon, cut in slices
5-7 black peppercorns
1-2 cardamom pods, cracked
2-3 cloves
1/2 stick cinnamon
1/4 cup bourbon

In a large, heavy, nonreactive pot, mix the fruit and sugar, and let stand to macerate at least 20 minutes, up to 24 hours.

With a nutcracker or a hammer, crack open several of the reserved pits and remove the kernel from within. On a square of cheesecloth (approximately 6" square), place the noyaux and spices, and tie up the corners tightly to form a sachet.

Place the macerated fruit over medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemons and the sachet. Raise the heat to high, stirring frequently to prevent burning.

When the jam reads 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer, cook one minute longer, turn off the flame, add the bourbon, stir well to combine and let the jam stand for a few minutes. Remove the sachet and lemon slices.

Pour into sterilized jars and process via the standard water-bath canning method.

More from Sean and Punk Domestics:

Sean Timberlake is a professional writer, amateur foodie, avid traveler and all-around bon vivant. He is the founder of Punk Domestics , a content and community site for DIY food enthusiasts, and has penned the blog Hedonia since 2006. He lives in San Francisco with his husband, DPaul Brown, and their hyperactive terrier, Reese.

Next Up

Learn the Hole Truth About Bagels on the Food: Fact or Fiction? Premiere

Watch the Food: Fact or Fiction? Season 2 premiere online now for free with host Michael McKean.

Light and Sweet: Pavlova for Dessert

Get Cooking Channel's pavlova recipe, a great dessert when you want something sweet and light.

Pulled Pork Nachos

Give your nachos a Southern spin with Cooking Channel's pulled pork nachos recipe.

Finally, Here is the World's First Vegan Butcher Shop

The Herbivorous Butcher is set to be the world's first all-vegan butcher shop, offering up vegan takes on all of your favorite meat products.

Fundamentals: How to Make Crème Fraîche

Creme fraiche is the sophisticated French cousin of sour cream. Its texture is smoother and the flavor subtler, not quite so sour, but still a bit sharp.

Fried Green Tomato BLT

Give your BLT recipe a Southern slant by adding in fried green tomatoes. This recipe from Nealey Dozier turns garden vegetables into a delicious sandwich.

On TV

Unique Eats

7am | 6c

Unique Eats

7:30am | 6:30c

Unique Eats

8am | 7c

Unique Eats

8:30am | 7:30c

Unique Eats

9am | 8c

Unique Eats

9:30am | 8:30c

Man Fire Food

12pm | 11c

Man Fire Food

12:30pm | 11:30c

Man Fire Food

1pm | 12c

Man Fire Food

1:30pm | 12:30c

Man Fire Food

2:30pm | 1:30c

Good Eats

3pm | 2c

Good Eats

3:30pm | 2:30c

Good Eats

4pm | 3c

Good Eats

4:30pm | 3:30c

Good Eats: Reloaded

5:30pm | 4:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Iron Chef America

8pm | 7c
What's Hot
What's Hot

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

Sundays 10|9c

So Much Pretty Food Here