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damn, that’s my jam

Recipe: peach jam

Our local wildflowers are going gangbusters. Or they were. I think they may be over the hump by now, but it’s still wonderful to step into the mountains and see green slopes dotted with blues, pinks, reds, yellows, whites, oranges, purples… I’ve made a point of getting out to assess the flowers along my favorite trails… of course, those trails are my favorites primarily because they have stunning wildflowers.

elephant heads

rose paintbrush

rose crowns

asteraceae and bluebells

Over the weekend, a friend of mine from high school was in town with his family. We met up at the Boulder Farmers Market Saturday morning as it was the only free time they had. Jeremy and I arrived early so I could scope out various produce for myself and for another friend. It’s kinda dangerous going to the market without a set list, because what I usually wind up doing is impulse buying fruits or vegetables for canning and jamming projects only to realize on the way to the car that I will have to forgo sleep to get all of it done before the produce goes south.

who needs sleep when you have organic purple okra?!?

I forget which of my wonderful friends clued me in on “seconds” at the farmers market, but I am eternally grateful. Seconds are produce that may have bruises and blemishes and sometimes odd shapes or sizes. They are perfect for canning and jamming and come at a reduced price compared to their premium cousins that are typically on display at the stall. A few weeks ago, I went to the Boulder Farmers Market on a Wednesday to score some ripe Colorado peaches. There are a few vendors at the market who sell peaches, but there is only one vendor who consistently commands a line as much as 40 deep: Morton’s Orchards of Palisade, Colorado out on the western slope. I was planning to grab a ten pound box of seconds (they’re certified organic), but when I saw the “20 lbs. seconds for $10” scribbled on the bottom of their board, I got greedy and went for it!

half of my haul

even though they don’t look perfect, they sure taste perfect

So I have this canning addiction, see? That twenty pounds of peaches is history and when we arrived at the market Saturday morning, I got the itch again. We stood in line for peaches. Fascinatingly enough, people would walk past the line, look at it with great interest, then hop into line at the end without even knowing for what they were standing in line. This time, the price was $10 for 10 pounds of seconds. I don’t know if that markup was for the Saturday vs. the Wednesday market or if it was for a different variety of peach, but I was happy to have more of these sweet, juicy gems.

let’s jam: peaches, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemons, liquid pectin

I’m not a jam person, mainly because I’m not a breakfast person – and particularly not a sweet breakfast person. Jams don’t really move in this house unless you like jam and happen to be a house guest. That said, I am in love with the idea of making jam and got overly ambitious with the first attempt. I doubled the recipe and found out too late that you aren’t supposed to double the recipe. This resulted in a double batch of somewhat runny organic Colorado peach jam. It’s still good and people don’t seem to mind receiving it (what they do with the jars after they take them home, I don’t know). So, if you’re just starting out, the first rule of jamming is… don’t talk about jamming don’t double the recipe. Just make two batches. I’ve since made four more batches the correct way and the result is enough to convince me that homemade jam is a different animal. A different, delicious, tasty animal.

get that lemon zest

blanch your peaches

peel the skins off

I followed Marisa’s recipe from her book Food in Jars and she recommends halving the peaches and then blanching them. Well, I tried to halve one of the peaches and because it was a clingstone variety and ripe, I wound up turning it into a juicy mush. So I reverted back to blanching them whole, peeling them, and then cutting them off the pit and chopping the peaches into chunks. Messy business.

liquid pectin, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, lemon zest, chopped peaches

combine the sugar and peaches in a large stock pot

add the spices, zest, and juice when the peaches come to a boil

I probably never told you about the time I put my lentil soup into my old blender and wound up with lentil soup all over the kitchen ceiling… twice. The time was right to move on from my Oster with its ten buttons that, for all intents and purposes, seemed to do the same damn thing. I graduated to a Vitamix and simultaneously went for an immersion blender because we like the soups in this house. I love my Vitamix, but this was the first time I had used my immersion blender and it left me a little breathless with how efficiently it puréed the fruit. I like to leave chunks of fruit in my jam, so I only puréed a small fraction of the peaches in a picosecond.

blender some of the fruit before adding the pectin

it’s ready when it is thick, jammy, and pours off in sheets

and then you put it in a jar

You don’t have to can your jams if you put them in the refrigerator. They’ll likely last up to a year (I read this somewhere, is this true?). But I love the idea of having homemade something or others to gift to folks, so I canned many many jars of peach jam, saving one out for immediate consumption. I’m sure you’ve either heard it said or have verified it for yourself, but there is nothing quite so lovely as homemade jam.

how about a little brekkie

with peach jam

it’s wonderful with a buttery croissant

Peach Jam
[print recipe]
from Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan

5 cups peeled, pitted, and chopped peaches (3 lbs. or 1.4 kgs whole peaches)
3 cups (600g) granulated sugar
1 lemon, zest and juice of
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
3 oz. (85ml) liquid pectin (one packet is typically 3 ounces)

Notes: I have made this recipe using both Weck and Ball jars. The Weck site has some nice canning instructions if you are using their jars, which differ slightly from the standard instructions for canning with Ball-style jars. Marisa uses pint jars in her book recipe, but I used 8-ounce jars. The yield is estimated at 4 1-pint jars, but it can fluctuate by a few ounces depending on the fruit (how much water or sugar content which can vary from season to season).

Canning peach jam: Ready the boiling water bath and the clean (washed with soap and water) jars you plan to use for canning. Check your jars and lids for nicks or cracks – don’t use them if they have any because it could jeopardize creating a good seal. If using standard Ball or similar style jars, it helps to put them in the pot you plan to use for canning and fill them (and the pot) with water, then bring to a boil. Keep the jars at a simmer (180°F) until they are ready to use. Place the lids in a small saucepan with enough water to cover them and set to a simmer over low heat (high heat can compromise the gummy seal material). If using Weck jars, you only need to sterilize your jars and glass lids if they will be processed for less than 10 minutes. Place the rubber rings in a small saucepan of water and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes then leave them in the hot water until you are ready to use them.

Make the jam: Place the chopped peaches and sugar in a large, non-reactive pot over high heat. Stir the peaches and sugar together to help release the juices and bring to a boil. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook over high heat for 15-20 minutes. Use an immersion blender (or carefully remove some jam from the pot and place in a food processor) and purée a little bit of the fruit to your desired proportion of jammy fruit pieces to smooth jam. Add the pectin to the pot and stir to incorporate. Bring to a full boil and let it boil (not simmer, boil) for another 5 minutes until thick. Remove from heat and fill your prepared jars with jam, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.

Use a cloth to wipe the rims clean and apply the lids and rings of the Ball-style jars to fingertip tight (just tightened with fingertips – not super tight). If using Weck jars, place the rubber rings on the glass lids and set them on the jars. Secure the lids with two canning clamps for each jar – 180° from each other (across from each other). Set the jars in your canning bath (either on a jar rack or a makeshift cooling rack – just be sure they are not set directly on the bottom of the pot) and check that there is at least 1-2 inches of water above the lids of the jars – if not, add more water. Once the pot has returned to a boil, process for 10 minutes if you are at an altitude of sea-level to 1,000 feet above sea level (asl). For 1,001 to 3,000 feet asl, add another 5 minutes to the 10 minute processing time. For 3,001 to 6,000 feet asl, add 10 minutes to the 10 minute processing time. For 6,001 to 8,000 feet asl, add another 15 minutes to the 10 minute processing time. And finally, for 8,001 to 10,000 feet asl (that’s me!) add an additional 20 minutes to the 10 minute processing time for a total of 30 minutes.

When the jams are done processing, remove them from the canning bath and place them on a towel-lined countertop to let them cool. Don’t mess with them! For the metal lids, you may hear the “ping” of the seals forming as the center of the lid gets sucked down. There will be no pinging of the Weck lids, but you may notice the tongue of the rubber band pointing down (this is good). Let the jars cool for 24 hours. Remove the bands or clamps and lift the jar an inch or so off your work surface (carefully – in case the seal is bad and breaks) by the lid. If the seal is good, it should hold. Store the jars in a cool, dark location for up to a year (take the clamps and rings off). Also, any jar with a bad seal can be stored in the refrigerator.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to can the jam, you can store it in the refrigerator (I think for up to a year?). Makes 4 1-pint (500 ml) jars or 8 8-ounce (250 ml) jars.

39 nibbles at “damn, that’s my jam”

  1. Alison says:

    Last summer I froze my (peeled and sliced) peaches so I wouldn’t have to work up a sweat in the hot kitchen. I then made peach barbecue sauce and peach jam in November. The jam is already gone, so I’m not sure I can wait until it cools down to make some more!

  2. Erin says:

    You and Marisa are infectious… I haven’t canned much in the last couple years, but I’m on a roll right now – refrigerator pickles, okra, and I found strawberries for $1/lb. so I’m making an ungodly amount of jam. Dammit, now I want peach preserves… this looks AMAZING!

  3. Kirsten@My German the Rockies says:

    Hi Jennifer, I tried peach jam once, but somehow it just wouldn’t firm up.I blamed it on the altitude. Thanks for sharing yours. It looks perfect. I will have to give it another try. Thanks. Kirsten
    P.S.: I also took the best pictures of wildflowers while four wheeling over Imogene pass about a week ago. The flowers are always stunning and so much fun to photograph.

  4. Val says:

    I bought 20 lbs this week and my kids have already polished off half. I am not sure they will allow me to process the other half. My plan was to blanch, peel, chop and freeze for some Fall jam making but, peach might not be in our collection this year. Love those Weck jars.

  5. Karen says:

    Try Ina Garten’s Orange Marmalade recipe…you’ll fall in love with that too !

  6. Karen says:

    High altitude might increase cooking time on the orange marmalade suggestion I just made.

  7. Montserrat says:

    Wow! Yesterday I did peach jam!!! It was different but it was wonderful.
    I used 400g sugar per 1kg cleaned peach and I had some water. I also add thyme.
    Wonderful. I’ll use tomorrow to make a cake!

  8. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    This is just lovely! Yum!

  9. Diane, A Broad says:

    I love seconds at the farmer’s market. When I lived in LA, I would always get a big box of “seconds” apples in fall and make apple crumble. Honestly, I think the fruit in the seconds box is sweeter — they’ve probably had more time to ripen on the tree, which is why they get damaged so easily!

  10. Kristin says:

    Beautiful flowers and beautiful jam! I’m not a jam fan either, but agree with you about homemade.

  11. Ellen says:

    I cannot believe you said picosecond. I am also feeling somewhat taunted by the okra photo.

  12. Connie says:

    Your pictures are always so beautiful–I love visiting your blog for that. I have never made jam before, but it looks like something I can try!

  13. Connie says:

    Yum. Now I know what to do with my Ela Farms peaches.

  14. Bridget says:

    I used to have a friend who would give me big jars of unset jam, and I actually preferred it that way. It was perfect as a sauce over pancakes instead of using syrup. (By the way, I wonder if your dislike of sweet breakfasts is related to not drinking coffee? I love sweet, carby breakfasts because they go so well with bitter coffee. Then again, I love savory breakfasts too, so maybe I’m just a breakfast lover in general!)

  15. Andrew | the fatty chalupa says:

    I’m incredibly jealous of where you live- one can only look at palm trees and the concrete jungle that is Southern California for so long! And the jam looks incredible.

  16. Abbe says:

    I am so glad you wrote this as I have lots of peaches on my tree. Usually I am not a great jam maker but I will try again. That is unless the squirells beat me to them first.

  17. Mrs Ergül says:

    I don’t jam because I believe that is for people who have good, local produce sold at affordable prices when in season. Obviously, (most) of the produce here are not (so) good, not local, not cheap and, more often than not, NOT in season. Isn’t that sad?

    When we went back to Turkey last year, our friend’s mother gifted us with homemade apricot recel. It is not canned and I had it in my fridge for 9 months before opening it. It is awesome!

    Happy jamming and canning Jen!

  18. Sherry says:

    It may be just me, but that looks an awfully a lot like a Costco croissant…

  19. jenyu says:

    Alison – the sweat and toil is worth it!

    Erin – mmm mmm mm!! I’m coming over to your place :)

    Kirsten – this recipe worked fairly well at 8500 feet and I didn’t seem to need any adjustments. Give it a try!

    Val – luckily for me, I have a handful of peaches leftover after making several batches of jam and it’s enough for me to eat since Jeremy doesn’t like drupes :)

    Karen – ooh, thanks! Yeah, I totally check all recipes now for high altitude adjustments – thanks.

    Montserrat – sounds lovely!

    Katrina – :)

    Diane – auuugh, don’t tease me with markets in LA – I used to love those so much when we lived in Pasadena :( I agree, I think the seconds are sweeter too!

    Kristin – thanks!

    Ellen – ha ha! I’ll save a jar for you!

    Connie – jams are pretty easy, believe it or not! Definitely give it a try.

    Bridget – you are most definitely a breakfast lover, but I think the whole sweets thing is just not for me :) But good to know that folks like the syrupy version too ;)

    Andrew – you live in So Cal, so you have access to the Angeles National Forest, no? I used to love hiking up high into the pine forests there when I lived in Pasadena/Altadena. Hope you find a nice escape soon! xo

    Abbe – oh. You have a TREE?! *jealous*

    Mrs. Ergül – true, I didn’t jam for a long time either. But now that I know how to can, it makes sense with some of our local produce. Still, I wish I could grow my own to can! :) thanks xo

    Sherry – it’s just you. It’s a Whole Foods croissant.

  20. Trolleira says:

    mmmhhhh wow! Jen, you know, if you use twist-off-lid jars, you could forget the canning process – I know, I know, in the USA you always can. But you see, in Germany, we make a lot jam (my mom did, my granny did, I do…), and only put the hot jam in sterilized jars, with this twist-off-lids. Clean the rim of the jar, close them immediately and let them cool, so they close airtight. Ready! They keep a long time, I still have jam from the 1990s and they are delicious. As you use a lot sugar to make a jam, it conserves the whole thing very well! Try it!

  21. Patryce says:

    I made some peach jam a couple years ago and instead of cinnamon and nutmeg used a hefty dose of candied ginger, minced fine. Now that is some good peach jam! Another time I left some peaches sadly too long in the fridge and though they were not spoiled, the flavor had diminished markedly, so that batch I made peach, raspberry and passion fruit jam. Came out quite tasty, I can only imagine it would be even better with less neglected peaches.

    My cousin is bringing a bushel from SC this weekend, so I’ll be jamming next week and making pie, cobbler, crisp, ice cream…

  22. Marisa says:

    Jen, once again, you’ve taken my recipe and made it sound more delicious and look more beautiful than mine ever did. I’m so happy you’re on such a canning kick this summer! :)

  23. Mrs Ergül says:

    Right, if I can’t get my hands on local produce then I want to grow my own but I can’t do that staying in a shoe box. The sad story of my life :(

  24. Lucy Hill says:

    Haha! This is perfect heaven for me! I really love making jams…and peach is one of my favorites!

  25. Cynthe Brush says:

    HAD to come read your peach jam recipe when you posted it on Facebook. I’ve been on a jammin’ kick this month making NINE (!!) different jams in the past 4 weeks. Haven’t even had time to finish blog posts for them.

    Rediscovered the lusciousness of fresh peaches this month….after years of avoiding them. Been choosing nectarines over peaches to avoid dealing with the fuzzy peach skins. Such foolishness. Blanching is so easy and quick. What was I thinking?!!

  26. Rochelle Paretti says:

    Wow! I love peach jam and I love your site.

  27. Deb in Indiana says:

    Hi, Jen,

    If you make a lot of peach jam, you might want to check out a recipe for peach “pit and peel jelly.” I used to can cases of peaches every year, back when I had kids at home and had a less demanding day job. I put up quarts of peach quarters, and pints or half pints of jam and pit and peel jelly. It uses up the scraps from the jam and the quarters, and is a pretty pale pink clear jelly. I suppose the reason I like it is that I feel I am getting something out of nothing, using up the “waste” peels and pits.

    I can’t see why you would treat the Weck jars any differently from the Ball jars — sterilizing jars for canning is good practice no matter how you seal them. Boiling the Ball lids, of course, serves the additional purpose of softening the rubber seal.

    I can’t speak from experience, though, since I don’t have any Weck jars. I’d love to try them, but I have plenty of Ball/Mason/Kerr jars and so I’ll probably never get the chance. Canning jars seem to last forever — I have some that my grandmother used.

    Besides, I live in the home of the original Ball jar, Muncie, Indiana. Even though Ball Corp. may have gone on to the stars, ditched their roots and moved their HQ to Colorado, they started as five brothers who moved their glass factory to Indiana to use newly discovered natural gas (offered free by the city), to make canning jars.

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  29. jenyu says:

    Trolleira – thanks, but at my elevation, we never quite reach the temperatures required, so I think it’s probably best that I process everything in a water bath (hence the extra 20 min!) :)

    Patryce – I think ginger makes everything dreamy! Sounds lovely.

    Marisa – thank you! I am LOVING your book xo

    Cynthe – oh I love the jams you have been making and posting on your FB page.

    Rochelle – thank you!

    Deb – huh, I’ve never seen that before – sounds interesting! As for the Weck jars, that’s what their site states.

  30. April says:

    Hi Jen, this looks great and I want to make it tomorrow! …but I was wondering about the use of liquid pectin vs. powdered. I’ve always used powdered, which has served just fine, but is there a specific advantage to the liquid variety? Also the Weck jars are very pretty, I will have to look into them.

  31. jenyu says:

    April – I don’t actually know the difference between the two. The recipe calls for liquid, so that’s what I used. I’m sure you can probably sub in the powdered, I just don’t know how much :\

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  33. Delfina Rodri says:

    What great recipes I,m glad I came accross you’r web site. I really liked your recipe for chorizo and you peach jam.
    I guess I have more cookin to do this weekend. Have a great weekend

  34. Gloss Bourassa says:

    Great recipe. My favorite is very similar but I’m a sucker for Apricots which I handle in pretty much the same way.

  35. Jennifer says:

    I have a question about the peach jam recipe you wrote last summer. You wrote that you do not have to “can the jam.” Does that mean I can make the actual jam (cut the peaches, add everything, boil, etc.) and just pour it into plain old jars? I am not a jam-maker but I have about 20 lbs of peaches… THanks!

  36. jenyu says:

    Jennifer – yes, but you’ll have to store it in the refrigerator and it’s lifetime will be shorter than if you canned it. So if you plan to consume or use the jam pretty soon, don’t bother with canning. If you want to give it as a gift throughout the year – you’ll probably want to can it.

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  38. Fred says:

    I don’t know what happened. The jam came out very thick and I only got 3 – 8oz jars???

  39. jenyu says:

    Fred – I just made a batch and came out with 6 – 8 oz. jars. I think your yield could be small because of a few things: 1) peaches weren’t too juicy 2) you really let them boil down 3) something was mismeasured? 4) ?? But if you say it was very thick, then it was likely boiling it down too long or too much.

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