I mentioned we recently went peach picking at Hollin Farms in Fauquier County, Virginia. Unfortunately my preserving aspirations exceeded my hands-free time during the week (one so quickly forgets how time-consuming infants can be) so sadly we lost a few to spoilage before I got a chance to put up a batch of jam. (We did enjoy quite a few out of hand … and in smoothies … and in a pie, as well. Nothing sweetens the end of summer like fresh-picked peaches!)
The husband is a bourbon drinker, so I’d been searching peach and bourbon pairings when I came across this jam. I adapted the recipe to follow the ratios specified by Pomona Universal Pectin — if you’ve never used Pomona before, it allows you to use less sugar than regular pectin. I didn’t weigh the peaches, but this used about 24 or so of my smaller- sized peaches. I’d picked mostly white peaches (White Lady), but thankfully the boy had picked a few of the scarlet-tinged Red Haven orange variety — which has this brilliant reddish-orange hue beneath the skin. Aren’t they lovely?
Aside from waiting for the canning water to boil (tip: start it before you start cooking the jam), peeling peaches is probably the most time-consuming part of this process. Blanching the peaches may seem like extra work, but trust me, it does save time — and avoids wasting any of that precious peach flesh that you might lose peeling with a paring knife.
How to Peel Peaches:
Bring a pot of water — deep enough to submerge a peach — to boil. Drop peaches in and boil for 20-30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into an ice water bath, then set on your work surface. Peels will slip right off.
Recipe: Bourbon Peach Jam
adapted from Beantown Baker
1 box Pomona Universal Pectin (follow package instructions for exact amounts of calcium water and pectin)
8 cups mashed peaches
4 cups organic cane sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla paste (or 1 vanilla bean, split in half)
1/4 cup bourbon
Instructions: (Before you begin, make sure all equipment is clean and ready. Sterilize jars in boiling water or the dishwasher — here are prep instructions from the National Center for Home Preservation.) Prepare calcium water according to pectin package instructions. Peel, pit and mash peaches. Measure into a large, non-reactive stock pot, and stir in lemon juice, vanilla paste (or bean) and calcium water. In a large bowl, combine sugar and pectin.
Bring peach mixture to a boil. Add pectin-sugar mixture, stirring vigorously for 1-2 minutes to dissolve the pectin. Return to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in bourbon, not leaning too closely over the pot as the fumes will be quite potent as the alcohol cooks off. (Remove vanilla bean, if using.)
Fill jars, leaving 1/4-inch headroom at the top. Wipe the rims clean with a damp paper towel and screw on the lids. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from water and set jars on a dry kitchen towel to cool. You should hear the soft “pop” sound as the lids seal — check to make sure the inner lid is depressed, indicating it’s properly sealed. Store jam in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to enjoy. (This made nine half-pints and one full pint.)
Have you joined the Canvolution? What are you preserving for winter?
This was a grown-up-only endeavor — my just-about-4-year-old lacks the attention span for such a time-consuming project — but if you’re looking to include your children in canning, read this article first.