Soon after our boxes were unpacked here in Sicily, I pulled my beautiful bread maker into the daylight. Shortly thereafter I stopped buying sandwich bread and have been making almost all our bread since early this spring.* I even convinced a friend of mine to buy the same bread maker.
Anyway, to get to the point, my nifty bread maker also has a jam setting. I started using it with strawberries this spring and have been jamming every fruit in season ever since (so far, cherries, peaches, and apricots). The entire process takes about 20 minutes to set up, then the bread maker works for 1.5 hours, and then you slide your jam into a jar and... you're done! No sweating over the stove, no fiddling to get your canning jars to work, no huge messes or sticky pots. Here is what I do:
First of all, assemble your ingredients. It's a short list: a few apricots, a box of pectin, one lemon, and some sugar. Cut up 2 cups of apricots into chunks and slide them into the bread maker pan.
Squeeze a tablespoon of lemon over the apricots.
Dust half of a box of pectin over the fruit. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, enjoy your beautiful daughter. She has assumed her usual position for whenever I am cooking or baking anything: right in the middle of my kitchen counter.
The recipe calls for 1.25 cups of sugar "or to taste." I prefer my jam on the tart side, so I put in only 3/4 of a cup of sugar.
Then snap the pan into the bread maker and program it for the jam cycle. The bread maker uses the paddle in the middle of the pan to mix the jam and uses extra high heat to bring the fruit up to the proper temperature. After 1.5 hours, you have fresh jam! I put mine in recycled jars since I will just keep it in the fridge or freezer until we eat it; I would need brand new canning jars if I wanted to keep it for any length of time at room temperature. It will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks or in the freezer for... well, I assume a really long time.
Come on over and I'll put some homemade jam on some homemade toasted bread for your breakfast!