Deep in the winter months I call these preserves sunshine on toast. They are quite frankly the best for breakfast any time of year but deep in the heart of winter, they evoke the warm early days of summer. The key is NOT to use a pound of sugar for a pound of fruit as apricots are really tart and the point of these preserves is to almost have them taste like apricot fruit leather. You need not use pectin either as apricots contain a fair amount and the recipe is called preserves, not jam.
One of my favorite sounds of the canning process is the "ping" the jars make as they cool down.
You can use these preserves as a glaze on poultry, or ribs or spoon it into yogurt but we are purists and love it on whole grain toast. When I'm gone, I hope my kids think to make this each summer and think of me. —barr
Place a large heavy bottomed jar on the stove and add the apricots.
Turn heat on to medium and add the lemon juice to the pot.
Add the halved vanilla beans.
Add the sugar and scoop up the apricots from the bottom several times to make sure the sugar gets all over the fruit.
Bring the apricots to a slow bubbly boil, stirring occasionally so that none sticks to the bottom and burns and then reduce heat and cook until the apricots break down completely and the preserves thicken -this can take up to 1 hour.
Place canning jars into a dish washer and run it. Boil the lids, completely covered with water in another pot on the stove.
Carefully remove the vanilla beans and scrape any remaining paste into the jam pot. Stir well. You should see the little black specs of the vanilla in well incorporated into the preserves.
You are now ready to place these into the cleaned, warm jars. Once they have the lid on them I use my steam canner to preserve but some folks just immerse the whole jar into a large pot of boiling water and process for 20 minutes. Remove and turn upside down on a clean dish towel.