Last week I was a busy food preservation bee. Kelley of Mountain Mama Cooks, Becky of Vintage Mixer and I got together for a day of canning. We started by turning 50 pounds of tomatoes into marinara sauce. That’s right, 50 pounds. It was not a small project, but working with friends made it fun. I think we were a little naive about how long it would take to make that much marinara sauce and by early evening we abandoned the peach jam we had also planned on canning.
Becky and I got together a few days later to tackle the big box of peaches. Once again, it was a long afternoon, but not nearly as labor intensive. If you have not yet discovered this yourself, jam is easy.
Start with ripe peaches, not only do they have the best flavor, but they’re easier to peel. To peel the peaches, give them a short dunk in boiling water and then rub the skins away with your fingers. Dump the peaches, along with the sugar and lemon juice into a large saucepan. Bring it all to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. I use a vegetable masher to smash the peaches into the liquid, breaking up the slices. You can give them a rough chop in a food processor before adding them to the saucepan instead if you like.
Your stove top will do most of the work for you. All you need to do from this point is stir the mixture every few minutes and skim any foam away from the top. The consistency of jam is a matter of personal preference, and I confess I like mine slightly on the runny side. I want to slather in on pancakes and have it almost drip from my toast. Test the thickness of the jam by spooning a small amount onto a very cold plate and wiping your finger through it. Once it holds up and no longer runs to fill the path of your finger, you’re there.
I added a hint of almond flavor with some amaretto liquor in this particular recipe, but you can simply leave it out if you wish. It’ll be delicious both ways!
I know canning can be a very intimidating thing, but I promise it’s not as scary as you think. And jam is a great way to ease into it. A few long days in the kitchen have ensured I can enjoy some of summer’s bounty throughout the winter.
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