Slow Cooker Apricot Preserves

First off, some history. The Chinese associate the apricot with education and medicine. Interesting. According to English folklore, it's considered good luck to dream of apricots. Seriously? Hmm. Apricots were used by the Australian Aborigines as an aphrodisiac, brewing a special tea using apricot stones and crushing the fruit and smearing it all over the erogenous regions. Wow, yikes.

OK, anyway, I don't know what to make of any of that. From what I've read I can tell you that the apricot was cultivated thousands of years ago in China. The Latin name for it is Prunus Armeniaca, or Armenian Plum, it was known in ancient times in Armenia having been brought along the Spice Road. It's introduction to Greece has been attributed to Alexander the Great, and Lucullus (Roman General, and one of the early food enthusiasts) is said to have exported trees to Europe. We have apricots here in North America thanks to the English settlers who brought them to the New World English colonies and to the Spanish missionaries who carried the seedlings across to the west coast. Today almost all production is in California.

I bought myself a slow cooker at the end of last year so that I could cook a venison stew. I had no idea it would become such a staple in our kitchen. My wife regularly makes an amazing apple sauce, slowly rendered down to a delicious puree. I like to sprinkle orange zest-infused sugar over the top and eat it straight. But I had yet to use it to do pulled pork. I have no smoker, no barbecue, and no wok. I knew you could do a pulled pork in the Crock, but never thought to try. Until now. I looked around and found a couple of recipes for an apricot pulled pork sandwich. They sounded amazing. All the recipes called for apricot preserves and I decided that, being this was a long weekend I would make my own preserves as well.

The recipe for preserves, or marmalade, is simple. Ridiculously simple. The main ingredient was the thing that stopped me up. Dried apricots. I couldn't decide whether to use standard dried apricots which keep thier lovely blushed flesh colour due to the application of sulphates in the chemical drying process. Or would I go with naturally-dried mother Earth-lovin' apricots which are much darker and muddier in colour but have, to my tongue anyway, a nice caramelly note to it. Being that my preserves would be used in a barbecue sauce the finished colour wouldn't be important. It really came down to how much I love the earth and how important the health of my wife was to me. I got my organic, recyclable shopping bags and walked to the grocery store. Beautiful blue-black Grackles sang and flew all about me. Every dog that saw me wagged its tail. What a great day. I got to the organic food aisle and was confronted with the prices of naturally produced dried apricots and decided that a little sulphite wouldn't be too harmful to my wife and I. The rain that started on the way back to the house was light, but a little cold.

In the end, use what you're happy with. The finished preserves are really delicious, as they say in Turkey, "bundan iyisi Şam'da kayısı" (literally translated, the only thing better than this is an apricot in Damascus)


8 oz dried apricots, medium dice
1 fresh peach, medium dice
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp orange zest (roughly, I used a little more)

Put all the ingredients into you slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours until it. it will get wonderfully thick as it cools. If you feel it's still too liquidy remove the lid and cook an hour further. Remember that it will continue to thicken as it cools.You can refridgerate it for up to a week, if it lasts that long.


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jason said...

These looks so yummy. Yours look so delicious, I’ll have to give it a try.

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