These beautiful treats are delicious for breakfast, a snack, or dessert (for the latter, use vanilla yogurt). If you’ve been intimidated to make your own preserves, this super-easy recipe is the perfect place to start. It requires very little active time and, since apricots have such thin skins, there’s no need to peel the fruit. Since you’ll have about 3-1⁄2 cups of rich reddish orange preserves left over, use it as a topping for ice cream, French toast, or toast; stir it into oatmeal; or put it in pretty glass jars and offer it as gifts.
Make the apricot preserves
Tip:To adapt a slow-cooker recipe to a conventional oven, follow these guidelines: add more liquid, to accommodate for greater evaporation; bring the dish to a boil over high heat in a Dutch oven, then cover the pot and put in a 350°F oven. Plan on the dish taking roughly half the time to cook in the oven as it would in the slow cooker.
Place a small plate in the freezer. With a vegetable peeler, gently peel the yellow zest from one of the lemons. Place on a small piece of cheesecloth and, using twine, tie into a bag. Add to the slow cooker. Squeeze 1⁄4 cup juice from the lemons into a strainer set over a small bowl (you’ll probably use about 1-1⁄2 lemons); discard the solids. Add the juice to the slow cooker.
Use your hands to split open each apricot; discard the pit. Once you’ve repeated with all of the apricots, coarsely chop the pile with a chef’s knife. Toss into a large bowl and use a potato masher to mash. Measure out 4 cups and add to the slow cooker, along with the sugar and salt. Stir well. Cover the slow cooker and cook the mixture on low heat for about 4 hours, until the fruit is broken down.
Pour into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pectin and boil for about 9 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pectin has dissolved and the preserves have thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and test whether the preserves have set by spooning a drop onto the chilled plate and tilting the plate. If the preserves are thick and run just a tiny bit, they’re done; if not, boil for another minute, then retest. The goal is slightly runny preserves, which are perfect for a parfait. Using a funnel, carefully transfer the hot preserves into clean glass jars. Let them stand until cool, then place in the refrigerator. The preserves will last for 2 to 3 weeks.
Make the parfaits
Into each of six parfait glasses or glass cups, spoon 1⁄2 cup Greek yogurt, then 2 Tbs. apricot preserves, then 1 Tbs. nuts. Repeat the layering and serve immediately.
Photo: Andrew Hugh Purcell