Erin Molnar, Assistant Market Manager
Saturday was National Can-It-Forward day. Sponsored by Ball, this event is designed to educate, connect and inspire home preservers. To celebrate, and as part of our series of preserving demonstrations at the market, I cooked up a delicious batch of peach jam.
Despite knowing in advance that I needed to do the demonstration, I arrived at the market not knowing what I would make. I brought some common jam and pickling spices with me to be prepared for whatever would strike my fancy. I ended up getting some lovely white peaches from Huffman Fruit Farm. (Preserving tip: if you are purchasing produce to preserve, check with vendors to see if they have any “seconds”. These are fruits or veg that the grower/seller has determined to be somehow lacking – it can be because of size, a bruise, a funny shape, or a cosmetic blemish. They are sold at a reduced price, so can help preserve your pennies while preserving your produce.) I decided to pair those peaches with some nutmeg and a vanilla bean that I had brought with me. (Honestly, I would like to throw a vanilla bean in almost everything I make.)
I adapted a recipe from one of my favorite preserving cookbooks (and blog), Food in Jars – here is what I ended up with.
- 5 cups peaches, skin removed and diced
- 3 cups sugar
- Juice and zest from 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 vanilla bean
- 4 sample packages Ball Classic Pectin (available at Countryside Farmers’ Markets for free) ***Note: You do not need to use this specific pectin. If you opt for something different, adjust the recipe to the instructions that came with your pectin – the order of ingredient combination may differ slightly. Also, this produced a pretty thick jam, feel use less pectin for a thinner consistency.
Prepare by sterilizing jars and lids. Start water bath canner if using. Start a second pot of water to a boil to blanch the peaches. Set up a bowl of ice water for the peaches post-blanch.
I cut my peaches in half to blanch, but you can also do them whole. Blanching for a couple minutes makes the skins slip off easily. (I found that the actual blanching time is dependent on the ripeness of the fruit.) Remove from boiling water and put in ice water. Remove skins.
Dice ’em up.
Combine peaches with sugar, lemon juice and zest, and nutmeg and cook over medium-high heat. Smash diced peaches as you go until consistency is desirable to you. Once smashed and juices have started to release, add pectin and stir to dissolve. Bring to a boil.
Slice vanilla bean and scrape seeds into cooking mixture. Throw the pod in the pot as well.
Cook 15 to 20 minutes.
Ladle into sterile jars. Either allow to cool and store in refrigerator or process via water bath.
Delicious on yogurt, ice cream, crusty bread – really the possibilities are endless.