Preserved: Dried Apricot and Pineapple Jam
Late March is supposed to be more like a lamb than a lion. But though the evening hours are longer and the temperatures slightly less frigid, those sure signs of the warming season, strawberries and rhubarb, are still several weeks away from the farmer's market.
We're in a time of year when everybody could use a little bit of bottled sunshine, and this jam, which is so golden the jars seem to glow, fits the bill perfectly. The recipe is based on one from some friends in Seattle. In the summer, they buy apricot "seconds" from their local orchard and freeze them. Come winter, they thaw the rosy-cheeked fruit and cook it with canned pineapple into a bright orange beauty of a preserve.
I've often thought about attempting their recipe but, unfortunately, apricot season is fleeting here in Pennsylvania. The sweet little fruits appear for a week or two, three if we're lucky, then they're gone until next year. The brevity of their season means that when local apricots are available, I'm more likely to eat them fresh than I am to cook them into a pulp.
It was with this Seattle jam in mind that I quartered a bag of dried apricots and poured a few quarts of water over them. An overnight soak plumps them up, and matching them with fresh, juicy pineapple yields a jam that tastes positively like summer: heady and tropical. It is quite a sweet preserve, so I love it stirred into plain yogurt for breakfast, but it would also make an excellent topping for pancakes or waffles. That way, even if we can't hasten along the warmer weather, we can still have some sunshine with breakfast.