We’re (peach) jammin’

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And I hope you like peach jammin’ too. It’s peach season here, and over the weekend we visited a local farm to buy a half bushel of Redhaven peaches. We’ve been eating a lot of them with vanilla ice cream for dessert, but I managed so spare a few to make a beautiful batch of peach jam!

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Just look at these gorgeous peaches. They were a bit under ripe when we first bought them, so I spread a few newspapers out on the floor in one of our darker rooms, and they turned soft after a few days.

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I’ve got big plans for these guys. Aside from jam (and what we don’t gobble right off the paper), I plan to can up a few jars of peach slices for future use….I see a peach custard pie in my future.

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I think peaches are probably my favorite fruit, and there’s something special about picking a peach warmed by the sun and eating it right there in the orchard. Pearl Buck got it right in The Good Earth when she wrote “The first peaches of spring – the first peaches! Buy, eat, purge your bowels of the poisons of winter!” Time isn’t measured in months or days, it’s measured in harvests, and the peaches tell you when it’s spring. Well for us, more like late summer, but nonetheless it’s my favorite time of year.

Ok, getting a little philosophical…let’s get back to jammin’! Here’s what you’ll need…

Peach Jam Ingredient List; Yield = 4 pints

  • 2 quarts fresh peaches, washed, peeled, and sliced (8 cups, or about 12 medium peaches)
  • 6 cups granulated sugar
  • Canning jars, rings, and lids (if you plan to can!). Wash beforehand in hot, soapy water and inspect rings and lids for any rust or other damage. Use new lids each for every canning project. Rings can be reused as long as they are in good condition, but lids should not be reused.

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Wash, slice, and peel your peaches. I find that the skin peels away nicely if you slice first, then grab a corner of the skin and pull it right off. Cut away any bruised or blemished spots.

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Now crush them up. For a spreadable jam, make sure you crush the peaches enough that the mixture is fairly consistent with no large chunks (anything that still resembles a peach slice!). And certainly this is a matter of preference too. But an old school potato masher like mine does the trick.

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Heat the crushed peaches gently for about ten minutes, then stir in the sugar and bring to a full rolling boil and stir often.

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Once the jam reaches full boil, a foamy yellow skin will form on the surface. Skim it away and discard.

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You may need to do this a second time if more foam builds up. The jam should be thickening as it boils. Keep stirring.

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Full boil time to reach desired thickness should be about 15 minutes. For me it was a bit longer since I was using large peaches and had closer to 9 cups instead of 8. You’ll also notice the color will change from a bright yellow to a darker, glorious gold color. Also try to use a deep pot if you have one, because boiling jam splatters – especially when stirring. So best to avoid jam burns and a sticky stove top! I still had a few larger peach chunks floating around in my jam, so I used the potato masher again to crush the remaining stragglers as the mixture was boiling. The jam should coat a metal spoon and fall off in a “sheet” rather than as several liquidy drops.

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Have clean and dry jars, lids, and rings at the ready for filling. Ladle jam into the jars with 1/4″ of headspace at the top. Tap the jars lightly against the counter to eliminate any air bubbles in the jam. Seal jars with the lids and rings and make sure the button in the middle of each lid is not depressed. Bring to a full boil in your water bath canner. Boil for 15 minutes.

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Time’s up! Remove carefully from the water. I highly recommend having a jar lifter for this. When I first started canning I used tongs to pull jars out of the water – don’t do this if you prefer your arms un-burned.

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Set jars on a wood cutting board to cool. This recipe should produce 4 pints of jam. Admittedly, I ended up with 4.5 pints since I used large peaches. As the jars cool, you should hear a metallic pop as the lid depresses. Now you know that your jam has safely sealed and can be stored away in the pantry. If the lid does not depress within a few hours, try processing the jar again in the water bath, or you can keep it in the fridge for up to 6 months to a year. But I really hope it doesn’t take you a year to go through a pint of delicious, homemade peach jam! Enjoy!

 

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