Peach Jam

Peach Jam
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peach jam
Summer in a jar!

Peaches are starting to come into season around here, so we headed out one day to harvest some peaches from a local you-pick orchard. If you’ve only had peaches from the supermarket, let us tell you there is absolutely no comparison to fresh, tree-ripened peaches. To be completely honest, we just do not buy peaches at the store. Too often they are so under-ripe as to be crunchy, hard, and flavorless, or they are soft and mealy, but still flavorless. Fruit is really meant to be picked and eaten when ripe.

Naturally, we went hog-wild at the orchard and came home with about 20 pounds of good peaches. The kind that dribble juice down your chin and make you need to change your shirt immediately after eating one. And, that’s the best way to have fresh peaches: just eat ’em. But, when you have 20 pounds of peaches, that means you need to do something with them. So, for the next few days, we’ll show you what we did with ours.

We started out making up a batch of jam. Now, we planned on canning this jam, so we followed the instructions for Quick Peach Jam in Put ’em Up! Fruit, by Sherri Brooks Vinton. Now, we aren’t going to show you how to can the jam with a boiling water method; if you already know how, great. If not, we strongly recommend that you get a book to show you the step-by-step process, such as Put ’em Up! Fruit, or, even better, find a course where you can learn hands-on from an experienced canner.

Makes 8 cups

Peach Jam

Peach Jam

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbs Pomona's Universal Pectin
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 4 pounds peaches
  • 4 tsp calcium water (in Pomona's Universal Pectin packs)

Abbreviated Instructions

In medium bowl, whisk together sugar and pectin. Set aside.

In a large, non-reactive saucepan, combine lemon juice and water.

Peel, pit, and halve peaches, placing them in the lemon water to prevent discoloration.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes until peaches are soft. Mash peaches with a potato masher.

Add calcium water and stir.

Slowly add sugar/pectin mixture, stirring continuously.

Return to a boil, and simmer 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve sugar.

Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes, occasionally stirring gently.

Skim off foam.

Pack into jars and refrigerate (or process 10 minutes using a boiling water bath , if you know how).

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2013/08/peach-jam/

Ingredient discussion:

Make no substitutions, especially if you plan to process the jam. Period. Yes, use the bottled lemon juice to increase the acidity level. The pectin and calcium water cause the jam to gel. And, perhaps surprisingly, use about 25% under-ripe peaches and 75% perfectly ripe peaches, and not a single over-ripe peach.

Procedure in detail:

sugar and pectin
So, that’s what pectin looks like. You say it helps the jam gel? Yep.

Combine sugar and pectin. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and the pectin. You want to do this so that a big clump of pectin doesn’t end up in the jam all at once. It would gel pretty much immediately and you’d have a gummy, chewy, gel ball right in the middle of your jam. Yuck.

Mix water and lemon juice. In a large (3 quart) heavy-bottomed saucepan stir together the water and lemon juice. The lemon juice is there for two reasons: first and foremost, to increase the acidity of the jam so it will be safe to can at home. Don’t worry, you won’t taste it. Second, it will keep the peaches from browning.

peach halves
Swish the peach halves around so they get moistened with the lemon water.

Peel and halve peaches. Since it was only four pounds of peaches, we just peeled them with a paring knife. We know that you can dip them in boiling water and the skins will slip right off, but we didn’t bother. Then we split them in half and removed the pit. Into the lemon water with a quick swish to get the lemon water to coat, and then on to the next peach.

cooked peaches
After 20 minutes of simmering, the peaches will be nice and soft.

Simmer peaches. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes to cook and soften the peaches.

mashing peaches
Use a potato masher to mash the peaches into a jam-like consistency.

Mash peaches. You can’t really make jam with peach halves, so break out that old-fashioned potato masher and give the peaches a good mashing, until the mixture looks like jam.

adding calcium water
You can store the excess calcium water in the fridge for your next jam-making adventure.

Add calcium water. The contents of the Pomona’s Universal Pectin package includes the material you need to make calcium water. A small packet that you mix with water, basically, but read the instructions so as to make it in the correct strength.

adding sugar
Pour the sugar and pectin in slowly to avoid those evil twins: lumping and clumping.

Add sugar and pectin. Gradually pour the sugar and pectin mixture into the peaches while stirring continuously. By adding it slowly while you stir, your jam will not have lumps of congealed pectin.

Simmer. Bring the jam back to a boil and them simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, again, stirring continuously.

skimming jam
You will have some foam on the surface. It’s not harmful, but skim it off so your jam looks nice.

 

Let rest. Remove from heat and let the jam rest for 5 minutes, giving it a gentle stir every once in a while. Skim off and discard any foam.

peach jam
Peach jam is summer in a jar!

Pack. Pack the jam into appropriate containers and REFRIGERATE. Unless you know how to can, this jam is not shelf-stable and must be refrigerated.

This jam tastes exactly like fresh peaches, and it was really pretty simple, so, if you’re thinking of trying to make jam, really consider using this recipe. Now, we did go to the extra effort to process our jam so it would be shelf-stable, but we also put some right into the fridge. It gelled perfectly, has a great texture and color, and the taste, the taste is like the best peach jam you’ve ever eaten. Really! We figure that it tastes so good because we used the very best fruit. Five stars!

Worth the trouble?

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