OK, so maybe I already live in the country, but I am definitely gonna eat me a lot of peaches this winter! Nothing compares to opening up a jar of fresh summer peaches in the middle of winter. For my mother, that definitely ranks at the top of her nostalgia list! As a little girl she spent her summers on the farm and canning peaches was the yearly tradition she liked best!
Over the past 2 weeks I’ve made 2 types of jam, canned several pints & quarts, and made honey from the left over skins! I really, really love peaches!! Rohrers Orchard is only a few minutes from me, and since I don’t have the room to grow fruit trees of my own, I support local farms that do! I also plan on getting my apples there come October. Rohrers last peach picking of the season will be Thursday, so I am stopping by Friday morning for one more half bushel.
This is going to be a 3 part peach post because there is so much deliciousness to share!
Part 1: Peach Jam
Whenever you are using peaches you will first want to remove the skins. You don’t have to, but they tend to get a bit slimy if you don’t. I am not overly sensitive to textures, like some people; however, slimy just doesn’t sit well!
Fresh is always best, and canning over-ripe fruit does not improve the quality or flavor. So, with that being said, make sure your peaches are ripe, but not mushy. I normally let them sit out in a single layer for about a day or two. Any peaches with brown spots set aside, you can just cut that section out and slice those up for snacking on while cooking! Wash your fruit and place it into a large pot of boiling water for about a minute, then transfer to a large bowl filled with ice water. This is called blanching and it is how you remove skins with ease. If your peaches are not ripe you will have to boil them a bit longer.
After the peaches have cooled in the ice bath the skins just slip right off! This is also how you remove tomato skins. I always save the skins to be used for making peach honey. Not to worry, a post is soon to follow on that delectable diabetic coma inducing sweetness!
Slice your peaches and remove the pits.
If you are making jam with your peaches, cut them into small chunks and then mash with a potato masher. You can add either lemon juice or citric acid to keep your peaches from oxidizing and turning brown. I use Ball Fresh Fruit, which is citric acid in powder form. Don’t let the name scare you, it’s completely safe and all natural!
For my peach jam, I used 5 cups of mashed fruit and 1 1/3 C sucanat. Remember how I went on and on about it in this post? I also used 1 cup unsweetened apple juice and the low sugar pectin. I have a wicked sweet tooth, so I was a bit nervous about how the jam would turn out. Fear not sugar lovers, it rocks! Combine the fruit, sucanat, and juice, and bring it to a rolling boil, then add the pectin. Once it returns to a hard boil, cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Ladle it into hot sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remove the jars from the water and allow to cool on a wire rack while anxiously listening for your jar lids to plink and seal.
I happen to have crappy hard-water, so there is constantly a white chalky residue left on my mason jars! Simple solution to a pain-in-the-arse problem, add a bit of white vinegar to the canner and cleaning crisis averted!
I also tried out a spiced peach jam this year! MMMM Baby! Is it ever good! Imagine apple pie filling, but with peaches. Oh yea! I used the same recipe for the low-sugar jam, but added 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon. I think with my final half bushel, I may try a ginger peach jam. 🙂