Our neighbors called one day, to say that their apricot trees were so laden with fruit that they'd be rotting on the branches. They'd already canned, made jam and juice, and had no use for the rest of the apricots. Did we? Of course we did! In fact, we'd already been "using" their apricots now and then, snacking on the fruits that had fallen to the ground. One of the rules in the country, I've learned, is that you don't eat fruit from the ground because it's, well, fallen fruit (wasps, ants, flies or other critters may have already tasted them or started living in them). But we aren't from the country, and sometimes we bend the rules, especially when they involve healthy ripe apricots that nobody else wants.
But now, with our neighbors' permission, we got to pick from the trees. We filled baskets and made jam for a couple of busy days, and now have 15 kilos of apricot jam stored away for winter. Since there was so much fruit, I did a little experiment.
When I make jam, I use pectin, which is a natural substance extracted from quince and citrus fruits, and acts as a jellying agent. Pectin allows you to reduce significantly both the quantity of sugar (always a good thing) and the cooking time (to only 3 minutes, thus preserving more of the nutritional properties of the fruit). It does have a disadvantage: even when properly sealed, the jam made with pectin doesn't keep as long as the jam made in the traditional way, though the pectin I use says it'll last up to 12-18 months, which is fine for us.
This year I also used fructose, which allowed me to cut down on sugar even more. You need to read the manufacturer's instructions, but to give you an idea, I make batches of jam with 2 kilos of fruit, which with the traditional method require about 1.6 kilos of sugar. With the brand of pectin I use (this), I cut the sugar down by 600 grams, to 1 kilo. Adding this 500 gram fructose, I only used 200 grams of sugar (instead of 1.6 kilos!). (Also, I always add the juice from two lemons).
The best news is, these health promoting tecniques didn't change the great flavor of my jam: fresh heirloom apricots ripened on the tree.