Start the evening before. Grease the base of a large saucepan with a little butter. Halve the apricots and remove the pips, but do not throw them away. Layer the apricots – hollow sides up – in the saucepan, alternately with the sugar. Sprinkle the lemon juice over, cover with the lid and leave overnight. This ensures that the apricots will not disintegrate during cooking.
On the day crack the apricot pips (see Tip). Remove the kernels from the apricot pips. Blanch the kernels for 1 – 2 minutes, drain and remove the brown skins.
Crack the pips by hitting the shells on the ridge, using a hammer. Do not hammer them on the flat side, because you will have to hit them so hard to crack the shells that you will break the kernel too.
Place the saucepan of apricots on the stove over moderate heat so that the sugar can dissolve. Add the apricot kernels. Take care not to cook at too high a temperature, as the sugar must first dissolve before it comes to the boil. Simmer for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
Test the jam on a cold saucer: if it crinkles as soon as it cools, it is ready. If it does not crinkle, cook it a little longer and test it again. It must not run when cool. You can bottle the jam as soon as it is cooked: pour into hot, sterilised jars and seal immediately.
Always use a stainless steel or enamel pot when making jam or preserves.
Sterilise the jars beforehand – bottle warm foods in warm, dry jars and cold foods in cold, dry jars.
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