July 10, 2012

Apricot season lasts only a minute or two so now is the time to make some apricot preserves.

Here is what you need to know. Apricots vary enormously. Some have a sweet, perfumed scent and are juicy and tender like a peach. And some have thin melt-away skin.

And then there are the tougher skinned ones, and virtually-tasteless-until-cooked types.

All of them make for lovely jams. Even mushy apricots transform in the preserving pot to make a wonderful buttery spread. Buy your apricots when they are firm and have no spots. If black spots are evident anywhere, the fruit may have been picked or packed when damp. These fruits will spoil quickly, and as all apricots benefit from additional ripening off the tree, the spoilage factor goes way up with the black spotted yuck.

So, bring your fruit home and let it sit out, on the counter in a basket (airflow) or on a rack padded with paper or cloth towels,  for two, three, or four days, until the fruit is scented and softening.

If the apricots are thick skinned, bringing the sugar and fruit to a simmer before the first maceration will separate the skins from the fruit. This is a real pain in the neck task, but it does keep the skins of the fruit from separating in the jam and having little chewy unattractive pieces floating here and there.

Clearly, it’s advantageous to find thin skinned apricots.

A conserve is vaguely defined as a preserve with nuts. This one is divine.

If you have a lot of apricots, lucky you! Here are four more recipes I posted last year.



Caramel Apricot Pistachio Conserve
5 or 6 half pints

3 lbs. apricots
2 lemons, juiced
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
6 oz wildflower (light colored) honey
4 oz apple or gooseberry pectin
1/4 tsp. orange flower water
1-1/2 cups roasted, salted pistachios

Halve and pit the apricots. Stir together with the lemon juice, sugars and honey.

If your apricots are thick skinned, bring this mixture to a simmer, then cover and refrigerate 8-12 hours. If your apricots are thin skinned, skip this step and just cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.

Strain the apricots over the preserving pan. Bring the sugar syrup to 215° on a candy thermometer. This will take about 40 minutes.

(In the meantime, if your apricots are thick skinned, you can pluck the peels from the apricots. Dreadful task, but worth it.)

When the syrup has reached temperature, add back the apricots and bring the mixture to a very strong boil, stirring all the time.

Add the pectin and return to a boil. The surface of the preserves will start to wrinkle a bit when gently pushed.

Add the orange water and the pistachios, stir well, and ladle the hot conserves into warm jars.

Process 15 minutes in a waterbath.


20 Responses to “caramel apricot pistachio conserve”

  1. Sharon O'Connor

    I have access to an apricot tree so I have been preserving them like mad. Brandied, Pickled, and several different jams.

    • Cathy

      Dried apricots – and dried all kinds of fruits – are very useful in jam making. I use them to thicken instead of pectin – so a balance of fresh and dried is fantastic and has a deep deep flavor. A preserve made from entirely dried fruits is, as you say, a horse of a different color. Delicious, but in my mind, more of a chutneyish thing.

  2. LiztheChef

    Salivating in San Diego…I love an old-fashioned conserve. My mother and grandmother made them, and I will bet yours did as well.

  3. Felecia Schur

    1/4 tsp. orange flower water. Please help. I bought apricots today to make your delicious recipe. I am not familiar with 1/4 tsp. orange flower water? Can it be omitted or substituted ? Thanks! The caramel apricot pitachio

      • Cathy

        Hi Sande, Just use an orange liqueur or orange zest. The orange flower water is more floral, but the orange flavor will do in a pinch.

  4. Helen

    Do you have Red Velvet Apricots where you are? They’re drop dead gorgeous, with a much deeper flavor, when ripe, than any other apricot I’ve ever tasted. Their beauty is startling. ;o)

  5. Laura

    Hi Cathy, I am desperate to make this conserve, but do not have either the apple or gooseberry pectin you call for. Is it possible to substitute a commercial pectin somehow? I am a lifelong lover of anything apricot, and also caramel, and really like pistachios, now I must make this as soon as possible! Thank you in advance for your help, please keep up the lovely blog, I have never commented before but have enjoyed it for a long time. Laura

    • Cathy

      Hi Laura, Thank you for commenting. I like getting to know all of you. Try this – just add in 3/4 cup finely chopped dried apricots when you add back the fruit. That will give you a nicely textured final product. Maybe not stiff, but thick.

  6. Laura

    Thenk you for your prompt answer, you are so good to your readers! Believe it or not, I had just checked to make sure I had some dried apricots in the house (they are something I almost always have on hand, I’m adding them to banana bread I’m making this afternoon). I have made apricot jam in the middle of winter with dried apricots, so I’m familiar with their texture in jam, what a great idea to use them to firm up these conserves. I just realized in my excitement over this conserve, I forgot to ask another question I had. I live in Canada, and our “brown sugar” comes in a few forms, a lighter kind called “golden yellow,” and another called “dark brown,” as well as Demerara. I have used both the golden yellow and dark brown in jams before, but I’m not too sure which is closest to what you call for.

    By the way, I have made your “Caramel Pear Preserves” with the caramelized sugar method a few times before, and has been my favourite of your recipes to date. I have a distinct feeling that this “Caramel Apricot Conserve” might become my new one! Thanks again Cathy. Laura

    • Cathy

      If you like rich caramel flavor, you’ll want to use a darker brown sugar. You will sacrifice a bright orange in the final product, it will tend toward a terra cotta color, depending on your apricot variety.

      • Laura

        Hmm, decisions, decisions! I might have to make two different batches and compare. I like a fairly rich, dark caramel with the pear preserves, but I think it needs to be to stand up to the spices. I’m thinking I’ll try the lighter with the apricot first. I’ll let you know which I prefer. Have a great weekend, Cathy, and thank you so very much for all your help. Laura

  7. Katie

    Greetings from Seattle! Trader Joes has some big juicy Robada Apricots from a town close to us, I threw them on the grill and they were crazy-good! Tomorrow I will make jam and am considering adding in some grilled apricots as experiment (sure makes peeling the skin easy). Thank you for being you!

    • Cathy

      I love the idea of adding the flavor of grilling to a jam, but worry about any bacteria that might be transferred from grill to jar. I would try it as a refrigerator jam. Or grill on the skin side only, and then remove the skin entirely.



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