The Best Peach Jam Ever
Oh my gosh I am so proud of those little jars up there.
This was my first time canning and my very first jam. And because all that wasn’t complicated enough, I decided to do the whole thing without pectin.
There were no guarantees here, folks… none whatsoever. In fact I was pretty sure it was all going to turn into a big runny unsealed mess… ruining the piles and piles of gorgeous peaches that I kind of wanted to keep around forever just for the smell… our house was like heaven.
But I went for it anyway, and after about two hours of peeling those beauties, it’s okay, I was a little less sentimental.
And minus the whole peeling thing (which, by the way, is much easier to do if you use this method… but let’s not fool ourselves, it’s still no fun at all) I was happy to find that the whole process went pretty smoothly!
Rather than pectin, this recipe uses two large granny smith apples, which are cooked down and then discarded (or eaten… because after simmering in all of that peach juice you better believe they are delicious with a little cream). The natural pectin in the apples causes the jam to thicken in the yummiest, most natural and perfect way… and the fact that this recipe isn’t terribly overloaded with too much other than super fresh fruit means we will have the tart perfection of those little guys here in our house to enjoy well into winter (I was actually surprised at how much I was able to get out of not really that many peaches… I ended up with 11 – !! – small jars). This jam tastes like you just picked the most ripe and juicy peach from the tree and spread it straight on your toast…
I’m not kidding when I say it’s the best peach jam ever.
And canning, well, canning (particularly in a water bath… I haven’t gotten to the pressure canner yet) is not so bad at all. I mean… really at all. Here’s a pretty detailed guide. Waiting around in the kitchen, post canning, my little heart jumped with happiness each time I heard a pop from one of those lids… and I’m proud to report than all 11 cans were successfully sealed.
Classic Peach Jam
Adapted from Canning for a New Generation, by Liana Krissoff
12 ounces Granny Smith apples (about 2 large)
4 pounds peaches, peeled, pitted and diced (about 6 cups)
2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
Sterilize jars by boiling for 10 minutes in a large canning pot; leave them in the pot to stay hot. Put a small plate in the freezer. Put the flat lids in a heat-proof bowl.
Quarter and core the apples, reserving the cores and seeds. Tie cores and seeds in a cheesecloth bag and set aside.
Put the peaches and sugar in a wide, 6- to 8-quart preserving pan or other wide shallow pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, and continue to cook until the juices just cover the peaches, about five minutes. Pour into a colander set over a large bowl. Stir peaches gently to drain off juice. Return juice to pan, along with the apples and the cheesecloth bag. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrup is thick and reduced, about 15 minutes.
Return peaches and any accumulated juices to pan, along with the lemon juice. Bring back to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes, until peaches are very tender and a small dab of jam spooned onto the chilled plate and returned to the freezer for a minute becomes somewhat firm. (It will not gel.) Remove from heat. Remove apples and trimmings, and stir gently to distribute fruit in the liquid.
Ladle hot water from the canning pot into the bowl with lids, and remove jars from hot water bath.
Ladle hot jam into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space at the top. Wipe jar rims with wet paper towel, if necessary. Put a flat lid and ring on each jar, and tighten until snug. Return the jars to the canning pot, making sure water covers jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for five minutes. I was a little unsure whether my boil was sufficiently rolling, so I left them in for 10. No hard done.
Remove jars from the pot and let sit untouched for 12 hours. (After one hour, check to see if the jars have sealed. If the center of the lid can be pushed down, it hasn’t sealed. Immediately move any unsealed jars to the refrigerator. They should keep for a couple of weeks.)
When you’re all done, label your pretty little jars and store them in a cool, dark place.
And be sure to give a couple away, they make the perfect hostess gift.