1 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean or 3 fresh, peeled ginger-root coins or 3 wide lemon-zest strips (optional)
1 tablespoon Fruit Fresh (may substitute juice of 3 lemons)
3 pounds (about 18 total) medium apricots

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 13/4 cups water and the sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Add one of the optional flavorings, if desired. Turn off heat and cover.

To keep fruit from browning as you prepare it, combine 1 quart cool water and the Fruit Fresh in a large bowl. Stir to dissolve. Cut the apricots in half, using dimple as a guide; pop out pits and drop halves into acidulated water. Cut away any brown spots or rotten places.

Line up sanitized jars. Tuck apricots into jars, skin-sides down, nestling them together like spoons. About 12 halves will fit in each jar. It will take some finesse to pack jars well. Unpack and repack as needed.

Remove optional flavorings from syrup; reserve them as possible jar garnishes. Snip the vanilla bean half, if using, into 3 pieces.

Return syrup to a boil; pour it over fruit, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Run a chopstick or flat, plastic knife along inside of each jar and (gently) around fruit to dislodge any air bubbles. Add garnishes, if desired. Make adjustments as needed to maintain 1/2-inch head space.

Clean rim of each jar. Top with warmed lids, and finger-tighten the rings (not too much). Process in a boiling-water bath for 25 minutes. Turn off heat and leave jars in the water bath for 10 minutes. Use jar lifter to transfer jars to a clean, folded dish towel to cool for several hours.

Label and date sealed jars. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.

Makes 3 pint jars.

NOTE: Halved apricots may be preserved in plain water, apple juice, white grape juice or a sugar syrup using as little as 1/4 cup or as much as 13/4 cup granulated sugar.

Recipe from Cathy Barrow, author of "Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving" (Norton, November 2014).