Apricot Jam Recipe with Noyaux, Spices and Bourbon

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.
  • Yield: 4 to 5 pints
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Ingredients

7 cups apricots, coarsely chopped, pits reserved

5 cups sugar

1 lemon, cut in slices

5 to 7 black peppercorns

1 to 2 cardamom pods, cracked

2 to 3 cloves

1/2 stick cinnamon

1/4 cup bourbon

Directions

  1. In a large, heavy, nonreactive pot, mix the fruit and sugar, and let stand to macerate at least 20 minutes, up to 24 hours. 
  2. 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-inch square), place the noyaux and spices, and tie up the corners tightly to form a sachet. 
  3. 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. 
  4. Pour into sterilized jars and process via the standard water-bath canning method.

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