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Peaches in this area are just passing their peak season and the farmers markets are filled with them. Over the next few weeks, peaches will disappear and the pears and apples will supplant them. For now, though, they seem to be calling to me, just as the tart cherries, blueberries, and strawberries did before them. So, I’ve answered their call and bought some each time I’ve gone to the market. Admittedly, the first purchases were eaten as-is. How could I not? After that, I made ice cream and posted a recipe in honor of Mom’s birthday last week. Having made a few quarts of peach ice cream, it was time to move on.
Several weeks ago, when strawberries were at their peak for this area, I posted a strawberry jam recipe made with Balsamic vinegar and black pepper. In the Comments section of that post, Betsy, of Bits and Bread Crumbs, and Elaine, of Le Petit Potager, discussed making peach jam. Betsy wondered about using balsamic and black pepper. Hmm …
After my last trip to the farmers market, I had what I thought was enough peaches to make a small-ish batch of peach jam — with a little balsamic vinegar. The recipe enclosed within the pectin packaging called for 4 cups of cleaned fruit. Incredibly, I somehow ended up with 7½ cups. I decided to use 6 cups here and to save the rest for a custard-based ice cream. (Recipe to come.) This recipe is very similar to the one used to make the strawberry jam, except I used white balsamic so that the peaches wouldn’t discolor; I used both lemon juice and zest; and, I didn’t add any pepper — maybe next time. Because I used so many more peaches than I had intended, I followed a tip from the Pick Your Own website. The author always adds an additional 20% of pectin than what the recipe calls for, just to ensure a good set. So, rather than add 49 g (1 envelope) I added 60 g to the peach mixture. My jam set perfectly although, next time, if I use 6 cups of peaches, I’ll increase the amount of white balsamic by another tablespoonful or two.
What if you’re not a balsamic lover? What if you just want to make some really good peach jam? Well, then, waste no time and click this link to go to Barb’s Just a Smidgen blog, where you’ll be treated to a fantastic recipe for making peach jam, not to mention a thorough, step by step, description of the canning process.
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Peach with Balsamic Vinegar Jam Recipe
yield: 7 – 8 cups
- 6 cups fresh peaches, cleaned, peeled, sliced or chopped
- 4 cups sugar – separated
- 1 envelope + 20% more low-sugar pectin (60 g total pectin)
- 1 tsp butter (optional)
- pinch of salt
- juice & zest of one medium-sized lemon
- ½ cup white balsamic vinegar
- Sterilize the jars and wash the jar lids and bands in hot, soapy water. Place lids and bands in a deep bowl and pour near-boiling water over them.
- Start bringing to boil a large, deep canning kettle of water to be used for the canning process and a second, smaller pot of water to be used to replenish water that may boil away during the canning process.
- Mix the pectin with ¼ cup of the sugar. Set aside.
- Working in batches, add sliced/chopped peaches into a large bowl and use a potato masher to smash them as much as you like. I skipped this step; my slices were thin and needed no further handling.
To Make the Jam
- Place the peaches and the pectin-sugar mixture into a heavy-bottomed pot over a med-high heat. A Dutch oven works nicely. Add butter, if desired, to limit foam.
- Stirring frequently, you are heating the peaches until a rolling boil is achieved at about 220˚F. A rolling boil is one that will not dissipate when the pot’s contents are stirred.
- Add the remaining sugar and stir well. Stir frequently while you wait for the pot to return to a rolling boil.
- Once a rolling boil has returned, keep stirring for exactly one minute before removing the pot from the heat.
- With a large spoon, carefully skim the surface to remove any foam.
- Add balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and zest. Stir well to thoroughly combine.
- Using a funnel and large ladle, fill each jar to ¼ inch from the rim. Wipe the rim to make sure no jam has spilt, place a lid on each jar, and then the band, tightening until “finger tight” but not as tight as you can make it. Act quickly, filling and capping all the jars.
- Jars placed directly on the kettle’s bottom might burst, so, a rack of some sort must be put into the canning kettle to cover the bottom. Many large pots have one, as do many pressure cookers. (I use a rack from an old pot that has long since been discarded.)
- Keep each jar level as you place them, one by one, into the canning kettle filled with now boiling water. The jars should not touch each other, nor should they be allowed to tip over. Depending upon the size of the kettle and number of jars, you may need to work in batches.
- Once the jars are in the kettle, make sure that there is at least one inch of water over the top of the tallest jar(s). If not, add boiling water from the smaller pot mentioned in Step 2 of To Prepare.
- Cover the pot and begin timing when the water returns to the boil. The jars must be boiled, “processed”, for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place a baking sheet on a level surface and line it with a clean kitchen towel.
- Once 10 minutes have passed, carefully remove each jar and place it on to the towel-lined baking sheet. Leave about an inch separating the jars.
- Once all the jars have been processed and placed on the baking sheet, remove the baking sheet & jars to a place that is draft-free and where they will remain undisturbed for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours have passed, check each jar to insure it’s sealed and then store on a shelf in a cool, dark place, where it will stay fresh for months.
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This time of year, our farmers markets are filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, and with Labor Day barbecues quickly approaching, there’s no better time to make a batch of Chicago-style giardiniera. This colorful condiment is a great way to add some crunch, and a little heat, to your burgers, dogs, wurst, and sandwiches. The recipe was shared last August and you can find it by clicking HERE.
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By any other name …
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