We have a new neighbor across the street and my usual practice has been to gift new neighbors with a jar of jam as a welcoming to the neighborhood. Surprisingly, I had no jam on hand—normally I have 4-5 jars ready to distribute or for personal consumption. I needed to make a new batch.
They had white peaches at the farmer’s market this week. We have been very fond of white peaches since our time in China, but they are a very delicate, short seasoned fruit. I decided to tweak my white peach jam recipe by adding some ginger.
Karl’s Ginger White Peach Jam
10 white peaches (about 6 cups)
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
2 ½ cups sugar, separate uses
½ cup water
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated
(optional) 1-2 Tbs. commercial pectin
1. Sterilize 4 12 oz. canning jars and lids.
Tip: Or 6-7 8 oz. jars.
2. Rinse, peel and seed the peaches.
Tip: Depending on how firm the peach is you may use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove the peach skins. Start at the base and work toward the stem. Slice the peach from top to bottom and give the knife a twist—this will split the peach neatly in half. Remove the pit, but leave the stringy “reddish” flesh around it—most of your jam’s rosy color comes from this flesh.
Note: I have tried blanching the fruit—as many recipes suggest—but even several minutes in the hot water did not loosen the skins enough to make them easy to remove.
3. Slice each peach half into medium small pieces.
Tip: I take three cuts from top to bottom parallel to the equator. I rotate the fruit 90 degrees and then make 8-10 cuts to dice the fruit.
4. Put the peaches in your jam pot and sprinkle the salt and half a cup of sugar over them, toss gently to mix.
Tip: The salt and sugar will break down the cell walls and draw out the juices from the fruit.
5. Let the peaches sit, tossing occasionally to redistribute the sugar syrup, for ½-1 hour.
Tip: After the fruit have macerated to your liking, proceed to the next step.
6. Zest the lemon and place the zest in a large pot.
Tip: My old zester had very fine blades. It took off just very fine bits of the zest and left all of the pith. My new zester cuts much deeper and takes fine shreds of zest and pith. In this case, this is important, because you need the pith for the pectin within. However, I did not want strings of peel in my jam. I minced the zest strips as finely as I could.
7. Juice half the lemon and add it and the water to the pot.
Tip: The lemon juice prevents your jam from oxidizing and turning dark. It also lowers the jam’s Ph which inhibits bacterial growth—extending the shelf life of your preserve.
Note: While one quarter cup of liquid does not seem like enough, when the sugar begins to melt it will become evident that that is all you really need.
8. Bring the fruit mixture to a boil and stir in the remaining two cups of sugar and the ginger.
9. Cook the fruit and sugar over medium low heat for 10 minutes.
Tip: If you wish you may stop cooking your jam at this point—you will get a “fresher” fruit flavor, but to get the jam to jell properly you will need to add as much as three tablespoons of pectin. Cook the jam another five minutes after adding the pectin.
Note: I like to cook my jams for an extended period—30-40 minutes—it caramelizes more of the sugars and give the jam a deeper flavor. The longer cook also evaporates more of the liquid and the jam will either jell on its own or require adding less commercial pectin to set up your jam.
10. After ten minutes use a potato masher, or an immersion blender, to break up some of the fruit pieces.
Tip: You want some chunks of fruit in your jam, but to spread nicely you want most of it completely broken down.
11. Simmer the jam until it starts to jell to your liking, this can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour—depending on how juicy your fruit was and exactly how high you have your heat.
Tip: Take a spoon of the juice and place on a plate next to an ice cube. After a few minutes pour the juice back into the pot. When the juice flows off in a sheet—rather than a thin stream— the jam is ready.
Note: Keep a close eye on your jam pot. A high heat may be quicker, but jam will boil over with little warning.
12. Pour the peach jam into sterilized jars and loose tighten the lids.
Note: Put the lids on the jars and tighten them down. Back the lids off about an eight of a turn so that they are “tight/loose.” This allows the air to escape—when you reheat the jars in a water bath—but does not let the water leak into the jars.
Tip: If you wish to extend the shelf life of your jam—not really an issue at my house—put the partially sealed jars in a water bath and boil them for another half hour to finish the “canning” process.
13. Place the jam jars in a water bath and boil for 20-30 minutes.
14. Remove the jars and fully tighten the lids.
15. Allow them to cool completely before storing.
Tip: The jam should last for a year on a pantry shelf, but you will be lucky if it sees the next month.