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I've been blogging over at Our Sleeping Flowers these days. Still me, and still delicious, come join me!

Just over a week ago, my sister, the babe and I went foraging. I packed up our little giant ladder, my sister showed us where to park, and we set out on foot. It was a small road, we walked off the beaten path and I steadied the ladder while my sister braved the heights and filled our green "green" bags full of summer's bounty. the babe stood by, trying to eat spoiled fruit from the ground and never succeeding, I'm a proficient at the mom swipe. We came away with a number of summer plump apricots, a few of them still green, and a very messy but very satisfied baby who had eaten her weight in gold(en fruit).

We brought them home, sorted through the over ripe ones that had gone to mush within minutes, and started pitting and de-worming them. They were all destined for the same fate, jam. It was a satisfying end for all those apricots, my morning toast has never been happier. and for the record, i love toast; especially when people write about it. a couple favorite breads we toast include alpine valley's, aunt sherry's, and my own.

The jam mightn't be able to hold it's own when face to face with a smear of peanut butter, but it's lovely with a bit of butter and the snap of good crumb. I love that there was no need for gelatin or loads of sugar in this recipe, it highlights the fruit well. It's a perfect jam for our early mornings.

I have seen a number of people who add vanilla bean to their jam. I didn't want the vanilla to be too obvious so adding half a bean was a good idea. It allowed just the amount of depth and richness that I wanted, plus I love seeing vanilla bean specks in anything sweet.

apricot vanilla jam
slightly adapted from chez panisse: fruit

2 1/2 pounds apricots, seeds removed
3 cups raw sugar or sucanut
one lemon
1/2 a vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

Chop the apricots into small chunks, Mix with the sugar in a glass or ceramic bowl, cover, and let sit overnight. It is here that you can add a couple toasted apricot kernels or noyaux (recipe below) for a bitter almond taste. Chop them up and add to fruit and sugar.

Prepare canning jars in boiling water, according to manufacturer's instructions.

Transfer fruit and sugar to a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat stirring enough to assure none of the jam sticks to the bottom. The jam will bubble high up the sides, spoon off the light colored foam as it rises (this is not really necessary but feel free to do so if you like). Continue to spoon off the foam until the jam begins boiling at a lower, thicker level. Begin testing the jam by spooning some onto a frozen plate until it is at the consistency you like.

When it has reached your preferred thickness add the vanilla bean seeds and pod, turn off the heat and let boil a minute more, then remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Remove the vanilla bean pod, rinse and set aside. Ladle jam into clean self sealing jars leaving a 1/4 to 1/2 inch at the top and seal as directed in manufacturer's instructions.

Roast the apricot pits in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes (very important to roast them as they hold an enzyme that generates poinsonous prussic acid when mixed with water). After they are roasted, crack them open and roast again for a few minutes.

- 2 1/2 pounds ended up being about 6 cups, after they were chopped.
- I found it useful to have two separate plates in the freezer, so there was always a frozen one at the ready.
- a candy thermometer might be helpful, but isn't necessary.
- use the spooned off foam as a drizzle on desserts (that you won't be serving to guests)
- use the vanilla bean pod to make something else or dry it out and make vanilla sugar.

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