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.
View the recipe for the marinara sauce we made on Becky’s blog, Vintage Mixer, and see all of the canning Kelley has been doing on her blog, Mountain Mama Cooks.
- 3 pounds (1.4 kg) peaches
- 3 cups (600 grams) sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons amaretto
- Prepare a large pot of boiling water. With a paring knife, cut a small "x" in the bottom of each peach. Working with a few peaches at a time, place them in the boiling water for 1-2 minutes, until the skins begin to peel back from the "x". Remove from the pot.
- Use your fingers to peel away the skins, starting with the "x" at the bottom. Slice the peaches and discard the pits.
- In a large saucepan, combine the peaches, sugar, and lemon juice and place over medium high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and use a mashing utensil to break of the slices into smaller pieces. Bring the jam to a boil, then let simmer until thickened, stirring frequently and skimming away any foam from the surface.
- The jam will thicken in about 45-60 minutes. Test jam by pouring a teaspoon onto a very cold plate (placed in the freezer for 15 minutes). Wipe your finger through the jam. Jam has reached the proper consistency when it holds its shape and does not run to fill the gap created by your finger.
- During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add the amaretto. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and place your canning jars and lids inside. Let boil for several minutes.
- Remove the jars and lids from the water. Spoon the jam into the jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Use a clean damp towel to whip the rims of the jars. Place the lids and screw on the rings, and use a jar lifter to lower into the boiling water. Let the water return to a boil, then continue to boil for 10 minutes (see note below).
- Remove the processed jars from the water and let cool to room temperature. Remove the rings from the jars and store in a cool place out of direct sunlight and for best results, use within a year.
A note about high-altitude canning: increase the processing time of your jam based on the following altitudes.
1,001-3,000 ft, add 5 minutes.
3,001-6,000 ft, add 10 minutes.
6,001-8,000 ft, add 15 minutes.
8,001-10,000 ft, add 20 minutes.