Sunday, July 21, 2013

Homemade Peach Jam

Last weekend, I picked 8 lbs of beautiful peaches. The main purpose was to use them for homemade jam. When Joey was gone for almost 4 months last summer/fall, I started doing a lot of canning and preserving. The best thing I made was homemade peach jam - Joey absolutely loved it. We're down to our last jar of jam from last summer, meaning it's high time for me to replenish!

I went peach picking last Saturday morning, and then Joey helped me make the jam on Wednesday. I wanted to use the peaches as quickly as I could, since preserving is safest when the ingredients are really fresh. One thing I'll mention is that canning takes a long time. Everything takes a lot longer than the recipe indicates. Make sure you have a lot of time, and a lot of space. You'll want some counter space for chopping all of the peaches, and then some counter space right next to your pot for filling the jars.

Also make sure you understand the canning process. I'm going to give as much information as I can, but I'm still a beginner. I would recommend getting the book where I got my recipe - Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving. It has a few sections on how to safely preserve in a water bath canner, as well as a TON of recipes.

Recipe: Homemade Peach Jam
From: Complete Book of Home Preserving
Yield: ~6 pint jars

8 cups of peeled, finely chopped fresh peaches
10 cups granulated sugar
2 packages pectin - I used Sure Jell regular pectin
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice

Fill your water canner with water. I have a 21.5 quart canner with a removeable rack. Put the rack in the canner, the desired number of (clean) jars in the rack, and then fill with water so the water level is about 1 inch above the top of the jars. Heat on medium-high, until water is hot but not quite boiling.

In a (much) smaller pot, fill halfway with water and put in the round lids. Heat until hot, but don't get anywhere close to boiling. Don't try to reuse lids from previous canning. You can reuse the screw tops, but you need to get new round metal lids every time.

Clean all of your canning equipment, like the funnel and bubble remover.

Peel the peaches and cut into small pieces, keep in a big bowl until ready to use. Measure out all of the sugar into a large bowl (it will take up a lot more space than you think).

Put the peaches, lemon juice, and pectin in a big pot over high heat. Whisk until all of the pectin has dissolved. Bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, add all of the sugar, all at once. Stir frequently, and bring back to a boil. (Note - this is where it took a really long time. You're more than doubling the volume, so it takes a long time to bring the temperature back up.) Once it is as a full rolling boil that can't be stirred back down, let it go for 1 minute.

Remove from heat, and skim off the foam. There will be a lot of it! If you want, save it to put on toast, it's actually pretty good!

One at a time, lift the jar out of the water with tongs, dump out the water that was inside it, and fill with hot jam using the funnel. Leave about 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe off the rim, and top with a metal lid and screw top. Carefully place back in the water bath, and then repeat with remaining jars until all of the jam has been put in jars. (Note - if you have a jar that isn't completely filled, it's probably safest to use that one right away.)

Make sure the water level is ~2 inches above the top of the jars, put the lid on the pot, and bring to a full boil. Once it has started boiling, boil hard for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and carefully lift the handles of the rack so the rack is floating in the water, leave it there for 5 minutes. You should hear most of the jars make a "popping" noise during this time. Carefully transfer the jars to a towel-lined surface. Keep them there, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Remove the screw tops and check to make sure they are fully sealed - the metal lid should be concave, and if you lift it up by its edges, should remain sealed to the jar. Store them in a dark, cool place. They should be good for ~12 months.

Once opened, keep refrigerated and use within 2-3 weeks.

Picture Tutorial:
Big canning pot, ready to go

Look at all of the sugar! That's a 5 quart bowl

All of the lids and equipment in hot water

Peaches, pectin and lemon juice together in the pot
Note - this pot ended up being a bit too small. Use a BIG POT!

Already forming a bit of foam, this is before the sugar was added

Foam skimmed off the top


Filled jars! Set on the towel-lined counter, waiting to set

Such a pretty color