Inspired by The Vintage Tea Party Book (reviewed in the critical) lifestyle of all things vintage and British, I decided to make homemade peach jam. As the end of August approached, our peach tree had suddenly started to drop its fruit, so I either had to use it or lose it. But what recipe to try?
I found two recipes from Martha Stewart that fit the bill. One was for a fresh peach jam that can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month. The other was a peach and rosemary jam that was cooked and sealed, which theoretically did not need to be refrigerated. I have made fresh peach jam before, but never had gone the more complicated route of sterilizing and sealing the jars… and decided to take the proverbial leap of faith.
Here is the recipe:
- 3 lbs peaches, peeled
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 4 ¾ cups sugar
- 4 large sprigs fresh rosemary
- Halve and pit peaches, then cut them into ½ inch thick wedges. Transfer to a large bowl. Add lemon juice, toss. Add sugar and rosemary, toss. Cover and let stand, tossing every hour for 4 hours. The sugar should be completely dissolved.
- Put peach mixture into a large, wide pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until liquid is syrupy, 12 to 13 minutes. Crush lightly with a potato masher, leaving one-quarter of the wedges intact. Skim foam from the surface. Discard rosemary sprigs.
- Seal and process. Fill hot, sterilized 4-ounce jars with hot jam, leaving ¼ inch space in each jar’s neck. Wipe rims with a clean, damp cloth; cover tightly with sterilized lids and screw rings. Transfer jars, using tongs or a jar clamp, to the rack of a large canning pot filled with hot water, keeping jars upright; cover with water by 2 inches. (Jars should be spaced 1 inch apart and should not touch the side of the pot.) Cover; bring to a boil. Process jars in gently boiling water 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool 24 hours. If lids pop back when pressed, they are not sealed; refrigerate immediately, and use within 1 month. Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place up to 1 year.
All of this went pretty much according to plan, with the following exceptions. I was unable to find 4 oz. Ball or Mason jars at my local hardware store, so went with a mishmash of 8 oz. jars. When I poured the finished jam into the hot jars, I noticed that it was much runnier than expected, more a syrup than a jam, and thought it would congeal as it cooled. It did, but not much, so I was left with a lovely jammy syrup, which is not exactly what I was going for, but should be nice with pork or yogurt. I would cook the peach mixture for an additional 10 minutes the next time.
But it was fun, and having real preserves made from my own peach tree is kind of a kick. I also had an excuse to sport my 1930’s Flo apron, so named because it has the name “Florence” cross-stitched at the top. Not my name, but fun for putting on a vintage persona while making jam à la The Vintage Tea Party Book.