There are a more than a few food memories from my past, but one of the fondest has to be peach jam. My mom used to do batches of this as well as apricot jam for many years, but I never tried to make either myself. This is the first time I made peach jam, and well, I think I’ll be keeping most of the jars for myself! The perfectly ripe Ontario peaches are captured perfectly in this jam with very few additional ingredients. I prefer not to use pectin in my jams as I prefer the flavour and texture produced without it, so I like to add lemon and sometimes apple for some more natural pectin that helps the jam to set up.
We decided to go peach picking at a nearby orchard since we had the time, and the red havens (freestone variety) were perfectly ripe. It also takes surprisingly little time to fill up two large baskets. I recently read that the grocery store peaches are bred to be tougher to withstand transport and packing methods, so I recommend the orchard peaches.
- If you have never done any canning before, please look up proper canning methods and ensure you have all necessary tools! I used a water bath canner, a funnel, canning tongs, a metal lid tool (to pick them out of the hot water), a metal ladle, a stock pot for my jam, a small pot for my lids and then the pot I used to blanch the peaches in.
- When mashing the jam, I mostly got rid of the larger chunks but prefer my jam to have some pieces of fruit throughout. You could also transfer the peaches to a food processor first and pulse to your desired consistency if you want a more pureed texture.
- It can be tempting to walk away from the pot while it is cooking, but be careful as you don’t want anything to burn.
- If you’re not sure if your jam has set, you can do a freezer test. Just put a plate into the freezer and remove it after 10-15 minutes, place a spoonful of jam on the plate and return it to the freezer for a few minutes. Run your finger through the jam on the plate and if it doesn’t run back together it should be good to go.
- After canning 6 jars, we decided to infuse some different flavours into the last 3. Just stir in a bit of cinnamon, cloves and freshly ground nutmeg into the jam left in the pot and allow to cook for about a minute. It doesn’t take long to take on the spiced flavour and a little goes a long way.
6 lbs of peaches (roughly 15-18 large peaches)
4 cups of sugar
1 granny smith apple
1 large lemon, or 1 1/2 medium lemons
1) Blanch the peaches to remove the skins really easily. To do this, get a pot of boiling water on and submerge 5-6 peaches at a time. Cutting a small slit into the skin before putting them in the pot makes the skins even easier to remove. Remove from the boiling water after 1 minute and immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool down.
2) The skins should just peel right off, but if you have any stubborn sections use a paring knife to remove the skin.
3) Remove the pits by cutting all the way around the peaches and pulling the halves apart – this should be very easy to do with the freestone peaches. Cut into pieces and put into your jam pot.
4) Continue blanching and cutting your peaches into the pot, and every 5 peaches or so squeeze some fresh lemon juice onto the peaches and stir to coat. This will prevent browning and the lemon juice also adds a natural pectin source.
5) When you have finished this process, transfer pot to the stove on medium heat and add sugar.
6) Use a potato masher to mash the sugar and peaches together until you achieve your desired consistency. This helps the sugar dissolve.
7) Grate your apple directly into the pot and squeeze in the rest of the lemon (again for the natural pectin to help your jam set).
8) Continue to cook your jam over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Be sure to stir often to prevent it from burning.
9) Once boiling continue cooking (do not reduce the temperature) for anywhere from 30-50 minutes until your jam thickens, stirring frequently. Our peaches were incredibly juicy so it took a little longer to get to the consistency we were looking for.
10) Skim any foam that remains at the end of the cooking time and place into jars.
11) Process in your water bath for ten minutes, remove jars to cool and listen to the sweet sound of your seals popping.
Makes 9 jars.