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Dear Joyce: Maybe this apricot preserves recipe is the one the reader was looking for. I got it from the Heloise column, and it was first printed in the 1940s.

Apricot preserves

4 cups water

1 (8-oz.) pkg. dried apricots

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 fresh lemon (optional), cut fine

Put all into a cooking kettle, stirring all ingredients and stirring and cooking slowly 20 minutes.

At this point the apricots will swell up. Use a potato masher to mash them up, leaving mixture lumpy. Stir again and cook 10 minutes more.

After cooking a total of 30 minutes, mixture is thick. If so, put in clean jars and seal or refrigerate. — Maxine Fried, Billings.

Dear Maxine: Thank you for finding the recipe. The next recipe is the same, with slightly different instructions.

Dear Joyce: Here's my recipe for the reader who requested apricot jam.

Easy apricot jam

1 (8-oz. pkg) dried apricots (cut in pieces)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 fresh lemon

4 cups water

Put water in kettle and add sugar and apricots.

Slice lemon into thin strips and chop. Add to pot and stir.

Cook slowly over medium heat for 20 minutes or until fruit swells up. Then mash with potato masher, but leave some large pieces.

Cook another 10 minutes and see if it is thick enough. If not cook until thick enough.

Let stand to cool and put in clean containers and store in refrigerator. Or can in sterile jars while hot. Makes 2-1/2 cups. — A Billings reader.

Dear reader: This sounds so easy to make if you don't mind watching the kettle and stirring the pot. Thank you for sharing.

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Dear Joyce: This is a recipe for making jam from dried fruit. Believe one of your readers was looking for one.

Though it is for apricot or peach jam, it probably would work with other dried fruit.

Making jams from dried fruit

(Apricots, peaches, etc.)

Fill a jar about half full of the dried fruit you want. Fill jar with boiling water and let set for a day. Then refrigerate for an additional day.

Pour off water, put fruit in the blender for a bit. May sweeten during blending with a couple spoonfuls of sugar or sugar substitute.

For a slight sour taste, add 4 or 5 fresh thin, lemon slivers in the jar before adding the boiling water.

Put into sterilized jars. — Elizabeth Melius, Billings.

Dear Elizabeth: Good to hear from you and thank you for the recipe. Perhaps it is possible the recipe could be used in a base for fruit sauces for pork or other meats.

Please send recipes and requests to Just ask Joyce; c/o The Billings Gazette; P.O. Box 36300; Billings, MT 59107 or email to justaskjoyce@aol.com.

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