Wife Jan has started research for her next book and is interviewing the denizens of Silicon Valley again. She cannot afford to pay the people who talk to her, but she wanted to show her appreciation for taking up their time. She asked me to whip up some jam to give them. It is stone fruit season, so white peach jam seemed appropriate.
I have made this recipe before, but I was not completely satisfied with the results. I had used only one tablespoon of ginger for six cups of fruit and it was clearly not sufficient. While you could taste the ginger it did not really have a ginger kick. As well as making a larger batch, I significantly boosted the amount of fresh ginger.
I am guilty of not reading my own recipe before I started. While I glanced at the ingredients list, I failed to read my own note on zesting the lemons. I used my fine toothed microplane, that did not take off enough of the white pith—which is where much of the lemon’s pectin resides. As a result, I had to use more commercial pectin to get my jam to jell properly.
Karl’s Ginger White Peach Jam II
6 lbs. white peaches (about 10 cups)
½ tsp. Kosher salt
5 cups sugar, separate uses
1 cup water
2 lemons, zest and juice
5 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated
(optional) 2-5 Tbs. commercial pectin
1. Sterilize a dozen 8 oz. canning jars and lids.
Tip: Or 6-7 12 oz. jars.
2. Rinse, peel and seed the peaches.
Tip: I tried blanching the fruit and unlike past experience it worked fairly well this time. One secret is to cut a cross in the base of the fruit before blanching—a trick frequently use for blanching tomatoes. This provides you with an easy tag to start pulling the skin away from the fruit’s flesh.
Note: While this worked for most of the peaches, even several minutes in the hot water did not loosen the skins enough to remove some patches if peach skin. These sections had to be pared away.
3. Slice each peach into medium small pieces.
Tip: The last time I cut the peaches in half and removed the pits before dicing them up. After blanching to peaches were a bit to soft for that technique. Instead I took small scoops from the peach with a paring knife—making little half moon of fruit.
4. Put the peaches in your jam pot and sprinkle the salt and half the 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.
Note: The last time I had a lot of fruit chunks in my jam. While some people prefer that style, I decided to take a hand blender to this batch. A few quick pulses broke down many of the fruit chunks—there were still plenty of solid bits, but this batch was more jam like rather than a fruit preserve.
6. Add the water and the rest of the sugar to the pot.
Tip: As you cook the jam some of the liquid in the pot evaporates away. This water simply replaces that loss.
Note: Five cups of sugar may be too much. My wife and daughter both though the resulting jam was too sweet for their liking. Since you cannot take out what you have already put in I doubled the amount of lemon and zest—from one lemon to two. This produced a very pleasant sweet and sour jam.
7. Zest the lemon and place the zest in the jam 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.
8. Juice the lemons 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.
9. Bring the fruit mixture to a boil and stir in the ginger.
10. 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 five 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.
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: I grew a bit impatient waiting for may jam to jell, so I eventually added some commercial pectin.
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.
13. Place the jam jars in a water bath and boil for 20-30 minutes.
Tip: Since my wife is giving these away—possible over months—I wanted to extend the shelf life of this jam—this is not usually 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.
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.