Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Auntie Zee’s World-Famous Apricot Jam from Fresno, CA

The following recipe was posted in The Armenian Mirror Spectator, August 14, 2019 by Christine Vartanian Datian. It is with her permission that I am posting it here.
The caption reads: "Auntie Zee" (Zarhoui Baxter) - 100 years young and one of the BEST Armenian cooks there was. Her famous "Apricot Jam"!
(Recipe and photo are courtesy of the late Dr. Harold H. “Buzz” Baxter from the Gutsy Gourmet, his popular international food website.)

Dr. Baxter stated:
“Here’s my late Auntie Zee’s (Zarhoui Baxter) private recipe for the most delicious apricot jam on earth,” said Dr. Baxter. “This delicious jam recipe takes time to make and is a major labor of love. My Auntie Zee in Fresno knew how to cook and always went the extra mile to make special Armenian dishes that had her signature. Auntie Zee protected this recipe for many years and had a twinkle in her eye when she would give it up to those few relatives and friends who asked how to make it. I think I am the only person she shared the recipe with in all those years. And I think that was because I once caught her climbing up a fruit tree to pick her own apricots on a hot summer day when she was in her late 90’s. She knew I was thinking of her that day, and she reluctantly shared this recipe with her oldest nephew.”

Auntie Zee’s World-Famous Apricot Jam

Ingredients:
3 quarts washed and cut apricots*
8 cups sugar
1 small can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
**15 apricot pits — remove seeds and boil until skin peels off
2 tablespoons light Karo syrup or corn syrup

Preparation:
In a large pot, bring all ingredients to a boil and cook until apricots are soft and begin to lose their shape. Let cool completely.

Pour into shallow baking pans to about 3/4 inch deep. Cover with cheese cloth netting and put in the hot sun for 3-4 days to further “sun-cook.”  (Dr. Baxter explained: “Of course you have to live in an area where the temperature will remain in the 90’s to 100’s during the day. Bring pans in at night because you do not want insects to eat your jam.”)

When ready (after 3-4 days), put the jam back into a large pot and bring to a boil for 10-12 minutes, stirring. Pour into sterilized jars and seal (and follow normal canning instructions).

Dr. Baxter added: “Cut apricots in half unless they are very large, then you should cut them in quarters. We are making jam here, not jelly. Tree-ripened apricots are not easy to find these days. It is important that these apricots are ripened in the sun. That is where all the flavor comes from. If you can find a farm that grows apricots or have your own tree, you are going to love this recipe.

**The apricot pits are the hard, woody center of the apricot. Within that hard, woody center is the seed. You will have to use a hammer or vise to break the hard pit and remove the seed. Boiling the seed will remove the bitter skin that covers it. This seed gives a unique flavor to this jam.”

Makes about 4 quarts.

For this recipe, go to: http://www.thegutsygourmet.net/zeesjam.html

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