Last weekend Eilene’s friends invaded the house for Fanime. This meant peaceful days, but a hungry horde descending upon the house at 10 PM. Eilene asked for fresh crackers as a snack when they arrived. While I was at the farmer’s market I saw some peaches. Peach jam and crackers seemed like just the thing for starving teenagers.
Many recipes for jam call for a one to one ration of sugar to fruit. Jan and I find this far too sweet. Over the years, I have slowly reduced this to one sugar to two fruit, as being the best balance. The drawback of this is that sometimes my jam is more of a fruit spread, rather than a semi-solid jelly. We find this a fair exchange.
This recipe makes about 3-4 eight ounce jars (depending on the size of the peaches). Pick the best smelling softest peaches you can find. Also, sterilize the jars and lids before you start.
Note: Eilene wanted plain crackers I used this recipe, but left out raspberries. Eggs and cream combined should be 1 1/3 cup.
Karl’s Peach Jam
2 cups sugar
½ pinch Kosher salt
½ tsp. vanilla
1. Blanch the peaches in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes and shock them in a bowl of ice water.
Tip: The peaches are much easier to peel, with less waste, if they are parboiled.
2. Cut the peaches into pieces into a bowl.
3. Mash the peaches into a pulp.
Tip: You do not want to turn the peaches into a smooth puree, but you do not want large chunks either. I find that a few whirls of an immersion blender makes this quick and easy.
4. Add the sugar and one quarter of a cup of water to a medium sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved and most of the liquid has evaporated, about five minutes.
5. Stir in the fruit pulp and salt. Simmer on medium heat for 45 minutes to one hour, until the mix is starting to jell.
Tip: Stir the pot and scrap the bottom frequently, so that the jam does not scorch. How long this process takes depends on how high you have your heat. High heat is faster, but requires constant vigilance to prevent scorching. Low heat takes longer, but is more forgiving.
Note: You do not want to add so much salt as to make the jam taste “salty.” A pinch of salt would be too much, but it would be missed if you do not add it.
6. When the jam sheets off the spoon, stir in the vanilla.
Tip: To test your jam for jelling: 1) Put several cubes of ice on a small plate next to the jam pot. 2) Scoop out a teaspoon of jam and set the spoon on the plate. 3) After two minutes, tip the spoon into the pot, if the jam pours off the spoon in a single stream, continue simmering. 4) If the Jan slides off the spoon in two streams or a solid sheet the jam has jelled.
7. Scoop the jam into your jars and put the lids on semi-tight.
Tip: You want your jar lids tight enough that the water does not leak into the jars, but not so tight that the heated air cannot escape.
8. Set the jars in a hot water bath and boil for ten minutes.
9. Remove the jars from the water bath and fully tighten the lids.
10. Set the jars aside to cool and enjoy.
Note: I made 28 ounces of jam this weekend and two double batches of fresh crackers. I had to make a second batch of jam this week, because Jan and I only got a tablespoon each of the first.