Monday, June 20, 2011

Spiced Peach Jam

I have to tell you I really was never a big jam or jelly fan until I made it homemade for my family.  My husband and daughter love it so much that I decided to try it.  Truth be told I never had jam without peanut butter and my ratio was about 3 times as much peanut butter as any jam or jelly.  The strawberry jam had me over the moon excited!  So, on with other flavors.

As I was researching peach jam, I read hundreds of blogs, recipes and book excerpts. While I was reading I ran across a few things that did not make sense to me.  As I explained when I shared my Strawberry Jam recipe, I much prefer to make jam without the packaged pectin.  Just knowing that I made the jam from scratch, gives me such a feeling of satisfaction!

So, why do we include things like lemon in jam?  When we are NOT using packaged pectin why do you use so much less sugar? 

Lemon is incorporated because not only does it keep the fruit from becoming oxidized (this is the process that makes some fruit turn brown when it is exposed to the air), but the acid also works with the natural pectin in your fruit and the added apple to help your jam set properly.  The jell-ing process requires an acid - pectin balance to be successful.

When you are NOT using packaged pectin you can use much less sugar, as you are cooking for a longer period and concentrating the flavor. It creates an almost caramelized flavor.

In this recipe I am not using packaged pectin, so I am relying on the natural sugars for much of the sweetness.  The best way to ensure you get the most flavor and sweetness out of your peaches is to macerate them in sugar for an hour before you begin cooking them.  This will help extract the natural sweetness and juices and make for a much more flavorful jam.

Be sure to use very flavorful peaches.  If you use under ripe, flavorless peaches, you will have colored sugar jam.  No one wants that.  I appreciate the advice I received from my dear friend and accomplished jam maker.  She also shared with me the flavor possibilities when you add spices to peach jam.  I decided to go with cinnamon and all spice, but clove could be another good choice.



As you can see I chose to use nectarines.  They actually are peaches, just with no fuzz.  This Spiced Peach Jam is so unbelievably delicious.  I could curl up with a warm bowl of it.  It is well worth the extra time that the few extra steps took.  Enjoy!

Spiced Peach Jam
5 lbs Peaches or Nectarines (approximately 8 cups diced)
Juice of 1 lemon (approximately ¼ Cup)
5 Cups granulated sugar
2 tart apples (I prefer Granny Smith)
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ teaspoon all-spice

Squeeze lemon into a large bowl.  Rinse peaches well under cold water.  Remove skins by blanching.  You can do this by dipping peaches in boiling water for 30 second to 1 minute.  Immediately remove the peaches to a sink or bowl with cold water (preferred ice bath) to stop the cooking.

Slice the peaches in half and discard the pit. You will see a 'seam' down one side of your peach. If you slice the peach around the diameter following this line you will be able to easily remove the pit. The skin will slide right off, if you have a few spots that are more difficult you can use a paring knife to remove those spots. Finely chop your peaches and place into your bowl with lemon juice.  Toss to coat the peaches in the lemon juice.


Pour peaches and sugar into large 8-12 quart heavy bottom pot, stir well to combine.


Cover with plastic wrap.  Allow peach mixture to sit for an hour before cooking.  To ensure you get the most flavor and sweetness out of your peaches, we are macerating them in sugar for an hour before you begin cooking them.


After peaches are macerated your mixture will be darker as the juices have been extracted.  Once an hour has passed, remove plastic wrap and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Add prepared apples, cinnamon sticks and all-spice immediately.  Prepare apples by coring and peeling.  Small dice apples and add to peach mixture.  I used This Week’s Favorite Kitchen Tool, my mandoline and julienned the apples and then did a quick chop.

Bring peaches to a boil on medium heat for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.  After 1 hour reduce heat to low, keeping a slow boil.  After 15 minutes, put a spoon of jam onto a saucer and place into the freezer until cool.  If you can easily pass your finger through the jam it is not done.  Check every few minutes and once the jam gives some resistance (starts to create ripples) you are done!  When finished, jam will resist and rumple a bit, it will be more jellied than sauce. That’s what you want to see.  Your apples will dissolve into your jam and you will be left with a think delicious peach jam spiced with cinnamon and all-spice. 


Remove from heat and either can in sterilized jars, according to standard safe canning practices, or put in the fridge or freezer for prompt consumption. Don't forget to remove the cinnamon sticks.

Makes approximately 7 or 8 - 8 oz jars.

YIELD: 15 Cups   Approximately 7 ½ Jelly Jars

6 comments:

  1. My only attempt at jam was an utter failure but yours sounds so delicious that I am willing to try again!

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  2. Ijust bought a whole load of peaches - now I know what I'm going to do with them - thanks!
    Mary

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  3. I've been seeing homemade jam everywhere online--I really need to make some soon! Your sounds spectacular. :)

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  4. Peach jam is my middle son's favorite! I love making jam- it makes me feel so domestic. :) This spiced jam sounds lovely- must try!!

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  5. This sounds wonderful! I bet it would be great with pork or chicken or on toast!

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  6. This sounds (and looks) delicious. I've made jam occasionally, my husband would love this spicy peach one!

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