Anyone who knows me knows I have a bit of a jam addiction. At any given time I have five or six varieties in my fridge, and I'd just as soon serve it over ice cream, with cheese and crackers, or whisk it into a sauce or marinade as spread it on toast.
My favourite jam is apricot, not only for its taste but its versatility, and I'd planned to make a big batch of it this year to see me through the fall and winter. Sadly, apricot season passed me by before I had a chance to do much with them -- one galette was all she wrote.
So, we entered peach season, and once I saw the lovely Red Havens on display I knew they'd make a fabulous preserve. One of my foodie friends agreed, so we set aside a Sunday afternoon to whip up a few batches. (When you're going to the trouble of making jam, why not make a whole whack of it, right?)
Two baskets of peaches and a whole lot of sugar later, we managed 20 full 250mL jars, and one three-fourths of the way full. Not bad! And my goodness, the colour! So much darker than I was anticipating -- instead of a pale yellow they're a vibrant reddish orange (I attribute that to the red tinge in the skins).
A few notes:
-Blanching is a must, for ease of peeling and to retain as much of the peach as possible.
-We didn't use the boiling water canner. Instead we ran the jars through a hot dishwasher cycle, then kept them in a 200F oven. The lids we boiled in water on the stove, using tongs to seal the jars once they were filled. All our jars made that telltale 'popping' sound that signifies a proper seal, so I think as long as you work quickly once you've filled the jars you'll be fine. If you're nervous though, just put them in the refrigerator. Here's how to tell if your jars have sealed properly.
-Though the recipe says you'll get five jars per batch, we filled a minimum of six jars per batch, so have extra jars and lids on hand just in case.
6 cups (1.5 L) sliced peeled peaches
2 tbsp (25 mL) lemon juice
1 pkg light fruit pectin crystals
3-1/2 cups (875 mL) granulated sugar
In large Dutch oven and using potato masher, mash peaches to make 4 cups (1 L). Add lemon juice.
Mix pectin with 1/4 cup (50 mL) of the sugar; stir into peaches. Bring to full rolling boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining sugar and return to full rolling boil; boil hard, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat; skim off foam.
Using funnel, fill hot 1-cup (250 mL) canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch (5 mm) headspace. Cover with prepared lids. Screw on bands until resistance is met; increase to fingertip tight. Boil in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
Fills 5 1-cup jars.
Source: Canadian Living, July 2008