Tuesday, July 20, 2010
With just a few weeks left of peach season left in middle Georgia I'm feeling a special sense of urgency about getting enough to complete all the peachy things I'd like to put up before our state fruit vanishes until next year. Peach salsa was a huge hit, and so Mom and I have decided to make a double batch to put away in quart jars with a few alterations---maybe an onion with more "oomph" than the Vidalia, definitely more jalapeno, maybe a smidge more cumin, a slightly heavier hand with the cayenne... We'll also need to freeze a bunch of slices for smoothies or other emergency canning ideas.
This summer I've made 4 batches of peach jam for keeping and giving. The first was from a clingstone variety called Springprince. Admittedly, I was a bit overwhelmed with what to do with an entire box of peaches, and found myself flummoxed after peach icecream, muffins, and a couple of cobblers. By the time I made jam the peaches were getting a bit too ripe, and the set ended up a bit soft. Still, the sheer rush of having a bunch of crystal jelly jars filling the shelves was fantastic--and then I gave them all away. And then I was sad because I had no more jam.
I drove out to the packing shed with my Mom and got a heavenly soft serve cone of peach ice cream and another box of peaches--this time, a freestone variety called Fireprince. I have loved these peaches. The flavor is fantastic and the jam is a brilliant color.
I make jam from a simple recipe which calls for a whole mess of fruit and way too much sugar. My friend will be glad to know that my next experiment will include Splenda.
4 cups finely chopped peaches
1 box of pectin (I used Sure Jell)
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
5.5 cups of sugar
1/2 tsp. butter to reduce foaming
As I was looking over the photos that I took for this post, I realized that a rather cute baby had gotten in the way of my photographic focus, and so there are some gaps in my process. First, I blanch the peaches for about 2 minutes, and then plunge them into a bath of ice water.
After they've cooled for about 2-3 minutes, the peach skins should slide right off leaving you with nice, naked peaches perfect for chopping. I put mine in the food processor and pulsed them which left me with four cups of a combination of puree, dice and some nice, chunky bits.
Next, you'll put your peaches in a non-reactive pot and stir in the lemon juice and packet of pectin. Add your butter, and then bring the mix to a full, rolling boil. When you've reached this point, quickly stir in the sugar. It really helps to have the full amount set aside and ready to pour in. You'll return the mixture to a rolling boil, and stir constantly for one minute, skimming off foam with a slotted spoon.*
Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops.
Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner.
(Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. Remember to listen for the pop! pop! pop! of well processed jars. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)
You'll end up with 7 pretty half pint jars of this gorgeous jam. I've also played around with making cute 4 ounce jars, but it seems like that's not quite enough and the pint jars seem a shade industrial for the average family although it'd make the perfect amount for the Linzer torte that I've got the itch to make!
*note to new "jammers": don't get too zealous in your skimming or you can lose a lot of what will be jam.