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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Peachy Keen

The other day Ted passed a farm stand selling fresh peaches.  Ted being Ted, he didn't arrive home with a little bag of peaches.  He arrived home with ten pounds of fresh peaches.  Let me tell you that ten pounds of peaches is a lot of peaches.

Although I like peaches, I hadn't given them a lot of thought this summer prior to their arrival.  That's probably because the peaches found in my supermarket are hard as rocks and don't have that delicious peachy smell.  Now, faced with a huge bag of delicious smelling peaches,  I was faced with a daunting task.  What would I do with them?  Sure, we would eat some.  And I could grill some on the barbecue, but that would probably only account for a small number of this massive bag full of peaches.

Well, when life gives you peaches, make peach jam.

I used to make jam all the time but then I got lazy.  It's so much easier to just buy a jar of jam especially because most of the fruit available in the supermarket isn't all that tasty anyway.  Making jam from scratch is a lot of work, especially with peaches.  You have to blanch the peaches to remove the fuzzy skin and then you have to remove the pit from the flesh.  But when you have delicious succulent peaches like I had sitting on my kitchen counter, suddenly all the work seemed like a small price to pay given what I would get in return: summertime in a jar.

Little did I know that the hardest aspect of this project would be to locate 8 ounce Mason jars.  You would think they would be easy to find.  Not so.  Mason jars are usually available in the supermarket or in a hardware store.  Well, they may be found in those stores in your city, but not here in Pittsburgh.  Nonetheless, after several false starts I secured several dozen jars and got to work.

Making jam is a race against the clock.  First of all, you have to make the jam when the fruit is at its freshest.  You have to be organized and have all your jars sterilized and ready to go.  And finally, you have watch your mixture meticulously or it will burn.

I blanched my peaches and peeled them.  Then I chopped them.  Then I coarsely pureed them.  Then I cooked them.  And finally I poured the golden mixture into my sterilized jars and gave them a nice hot water bath.

Like I said.  Summertime in a jar.

Recipe:  Peach Jam
(Adapted from Certo)


3 pounds peaches, peeled, and chopped to equal exactly 4 cups
7 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pouch Certo
1/2 teaspoon butter (optional) to prevent foaming


Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

Peel and pit peaches. Finely chop or grind fruit. Measure exactly 4 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-qt. saucepan. Stir in lemon juice.

Stir sugar into prepared fruit in saucepan. Add butter to reducing foaming. Bring to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids springs back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

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