True confession: for years and years, I was afraid to can. When writing jam recipes, I’d deflect the matter with a quick, “seal in sterilized jars,” and move on to freezing instructions. (Apologies, dear readers, for all my past shirking!)

Two things happened to change my game. I took a canning class from the excellent Valerie Gordon and Kevin West. Their expert tips and calm approach turned me from anxious occasional preserver into someone who could turn out a batch of perfectly sealed jars “just like that.”

And then, I began jamming and canning with my granddaughter Delfina (she’s not yet eight in that misty-memory photo above). That’s when the power of preserving really hit me. It’s not just about capturing summer flavors for winter pleasure–in this case, the honeyed tones of my favorite Blenheim apricots–although it is surely that. It’s about locking away sweet memories of our shared experience and savoring my granddaughter’s journey to expertise.

In our case, Delfina is the fifth generation to learn my grandmother’s way with apricots. I wrote all about the beginnings of my family’s tradition in my first story for the LA Times Sunday Magazine (when there was such a thing). Today’s blog post is our family’s latest chapter.

Here are the basics of making and putting up apricot preserves per Delfina. You can find the actual Apricot Preserves recipe here or on page 170 of The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook and a 2.0 version on page 274 of  The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen. I can hardly wait until this summer’s canning adventure.

Halve and quarter apricots and macerate with sugar. This even can be done the night before and refrigerated. Cook the jam as Delfina does here, and bask in the enticing aromas. Listen carefully to this video.

Ladle into sparkling clean jars (wash them in hot soapy water and store on sheet pan in 200-degree oven to sterilize while you cook). Wipe rims clean so the lids will seal well.


Place lids on jars; close rings fingertip-tight. Lower jars into boiling water.

Boil for 10 minutes, turn off heat, remove pot lid, and let stand for 5 minutes. Lift out with jar lifter (our favorite tool!) and listen for that beautiful snap that tells you a vacuum seal has formed.


Et voila.