easy peach jam

It happens like clockwork every year, that moment when the first whisper of fall comes crashing in. The calendar may not have officially changed seasons yet, but the breezy winds, and cooler nights made their way to the Cape a couple of days ago. This has been the pattern for most of the 18 years I’ve been coming here. Of course, summer doesn’t disappear without a fight, especially back in New York City. I’m sure we’ll be swapping sweaters for swimsuits again next week.

The change in weather gave me a bit of a panic attack the other day. We’ve had some wonderful trips this summer, but all the packing, unpacking, on and off planes, means I missed a good deal of my local growing season. Translation: my cupboards are dismally low on home-canned goodies. Thankfully, I stumbled upon some incredible peaches at the farmers’ market in Provincetown this past weekend, proving the window has not yet closed on my canning opportunities.

When I first started making jam, I relied on Pomona’s Universal Pectin because I was weary of using copious amounts of sugar to thicken it. I also love to capture the pure fruit flavor without any cloying sweetness. That said, my thoughts on this changed a little this year. I still do recommend Pomona’s, especially if you’re diabetic, need to maintain, or just prefer, a low-sugar lifestyle.

There are other approaches to making jam, though, that you can consider. Adding chopped, unripe, tart apples (sometimes called summer apples), is one method. These apples are high in natural pectin, and just a little apple, chopped up, goes  a long way to helping thicken up your jam, allowing you to use a little less sugar (don’t get me wrong, you’ll still need a good amount). You can also try making your own apple jelly to use as a pectin base for your jam. This is Christine Ferber’s approach, and her jams are heavenly. I’m madly in love with her raspberry violet one, and stock up on it whenever I’m in Paris (I’ve yet to be able to find it here in NYC).

The last method, and one I’ve embraced this summer, is the very traditional method of adding almost equal parts sugar to fruit. It’s incredibly easy, and is cooked on the stovetop instead of my quick method which uses the microwave (a great recipe if you want to make jam in 15 minutes!). Don’t mistaken large quantities of sugar as a remedy for poor quality fruit. It’s still imperative to use super ripe fruit for the best taste. I’ve experimented a lot with infusing fresh herbs, and new flavors into my jams. Rosemary with strawberries is a lovely marriage. A friend recently made a plum lavender jam that was incredible, too. When it comes to perking me up on a cold, grey, winter day, though, I crave a more simple, pure burst of summer to slather on toast, or stir into my oatmeal.

And so, today, I’m offering up an easy peach jam recipe. All you need are three ingredients—peaches, sugar and lemon juice. A bit of patience is necessary too, but I’m taking that ingredient as a freebie, and not adding it to my count. A note about selecting your peaches—try to get freestone peaches, as the pits release easily with minimal coaxing from the tip of your thumbnail. Cling peaches work absolutely fine, but you’ll lose a little of the meat cutting the flesh from the pit. At this late point in the game, I say go with whatever peaches you’ve got, but thought I’d add that tidbit if you do have a choice when you’re at the market.

freestone peaches

As for peeling the peaches, a very ripe peach usually sheds it’s skin easily. I get it started with the tip of a paring knife, and pull it away from there. If your skins are persistent, you can score them (cut an “X” in the bottom), and add them to a pot of boiling water for one minute, until the skins loosen. You’ll need to let them cool enough so you can handle them, before slipping the skins off. This means you’ll need more prep time for making your jam, but it’s not at all difficult—just plan accordingly.

The jams I’ve been making this summer, this one included, remind me a lot of Christine Ferber’s, in that they’re a little on the runny side when first made. They set up more, and thicken further once opened and chilled. Feel free to experiment if you want to dress the jam up a bit. I can see vanilla bean, lemon thyme, mint, or a hint of cinnamon being a lovely accessory to the peach’s natural flavor.

Just Peachy Jam

makes 2 1/2 pints

Music Pairing: Jammin’ by Bob Marley

I must confess, I skip the hot water method when making this jam, and simply turn my jars upside down after filling and tightening the tops. The heat from the hot jam is enough to create an airtight seal (that popping sound is music to my ears), and the amount of sugar is enough to keep it safe, too. That is how my friend’s French mother has been making her jam for years, and so far no one has perished. Once opened, though, it does need to be stored in the fridge to keep it from spoiling. If you prefer to dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s”, please do go ahead and process the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

2 1/2 pounds (1 1/8 kilos) very ripe peaches (about 9 peaches), peeled, pitted & chopped

2 pounds (1 kilo) granulated natural cane sugar

Freshly juice of 1 plump lemon

Place a small dish in the freezer. You will need this to test the jam for doneness.

Add the peaches, sugar and lemon juice to a deep stock pot. It’ll look lost in the pot, but you’ll need the space when it comes to a boil, trust me.

Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, over high heat. Use a wide spoon to skim the foam from the top. Don’t skip this step, or you’ll end up with a cloudy jam. It’s worth the extra minute or two of your time, I promise.

Once you’re done skimming the foam off, reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer (with bubbles constantly popping to the surface). Let the jam continue to cook until reduced by half, and thickened enough that it generously coats the back of a wooden spoon. At this point, you can start testing your jam for doneness. Remove the dish from the freezer, and drizzle a small amount on the plate. Tilt the plate sideways, and if it holds in place without being too runny, then it’s ready. The consistency will still be thin. Don’t worry it will thicken, and set up into a gel, as it cools.

Spoon the hot jam into clean, sterilized jars. Let cool completely before using.

Comments

  • Patricia: Awesome. Love peaches! Might I also suggest a bit of cinnamon or other spice you love to make a lightly spiced peach jam. My daughter and I made spiced peach jam a couple of years ago when peaches were plentiful around here and it was wonderful! Love your recipes and your blog.

  • Angie | Big Bear’s Wife: I have yet to start canning. I’ve always wanted to but for some reason just haven’t. I don’t have any canning supplies and sadly when I think of canned food, I think of old creepy basements of jars that contained super old food (yes I know that’s not normally how it is and the food isn’t super old haha) But I’m starting to lean more towards the side of wanting to try canning. Love the recipe! May start with this one!

  • Char James-Tanny: I love canning (I make all sorts of stuff), but jam has always defeated me. I think I can tackle this recipe and win, though :-)

    Thanks!

  • Jillian: Hi Jennie, I am looking forward to making your jam recipe & really like that it is pectin free. Thanks for the “french grandmother” quick turn the jar over tip. I really love your voice & enjoy reading your blog! Thanks, Jillian

  • Rocky Mountain Woman: We are just starting to see peaches in the market, I’ll give this a try…

  • Jamie | Jamie’s Recipes: I want to make peach jam this season. I have bought peaches twice intended for jam but my children have snacked on them each time. I can’t blame them, they are so so good this time of year.

  • dervla: oooh i know, i feel the change in the air too. Here it comes! I don’t feel appropriately stocked up on preserved summer goods either – but i always feel this way :)

  • Susy Slais: Hi Jennie,

    Thank you for the recipe . . . very easy! I found your CASSIS D’ALSACE ET VIOLETTE jam here, it’s $20 for 220 gr jar. :)

    http://www.borneconfections.com/cassisdalsaceetviolette/blackcurrantjamwithviolet.aspx

  • easy homemade peach jam | Simple Scratch Cooking: [...] Visit my other blog In Jennie’s Kitchen for more backstory on this easy peach jam recipe. [...]

  • Arcane: As always, Jennie, you make we want to be in the kitchen! One of my favorite pairings is peach-orange, right out of the Ball Blue Book. The oranges add a tang to balance the richness of the peaches and there’s bit of orange zest in there for some textural contrast – perfect with cream cheese on rustic bread. I’ve even added a splash of orange liqueur/brandy to the mix. Now that’s breakfast!

  • Cécile: I made this with ripe plums! It’s still cooling, but looks great already :) gotta love canning!

  • This American Bite: Love the look of this. It makes me think of the beach.

  • Leola: I just finish making peach jam it look yummy and smell so nice in my kitchen. Thank you for the recipe. Fist time making jam. It turn out nice.

  • Mary: This was wonderfully tasty treat! I made a batch to take to work today and everyone loved it!

  • Martin: Thank you so much for your recipe and tips on canning. I followed your words to the tee and made some amazing peach jam for the first time.

  • Jennifer Perillo: I love hearing this! Congratulations, and keep on jamming. -JP

  • gene: This is far and away the best recipe I’ve read. It is the only recipe which recognizes that sterility is way overplayed in most recipes and the fact that high sugar content eliminates bacterial growth. Most recipes think your setting up for surgery! Geez Louise! I leave my jams on the counter for months and have never had any kind of spoilage issue. I wonder how many people are aware that once you create an anaerobic environment the issue becomes long term storage prevention of botulin toxin not Listeria, E. coli or Salmonella so fine if your taking these jars and storing them on a shelf for years I’d sterilize them carefully but if the stuff is going open into a fridge to be eaten your wasting your time playing Dr. Kildare.

  • Amy Sletta: About how long do you cook the peach mixture down for? I am new to canning and am not known for my patience. Thank you

  • James: Hi Jennie… Love the peach jam recipe. So simple. I’ve made it twice as peaches have hit their peak here in Utah. Wondering if you felt like I would need to change the recipe for strawberries? I’m guessing the water content or natural sugars could make a difference, but I’d love to keep things the same if possible. Dunno if you answer questions quickly… or at all. ;) Thanks either way.

  • Jennifer Perillo: Hi James. I’ve swapped in strawberries, too. Just keep the same ratio of fruit vs. sugar. Hope that helps.
    -JP

  • Kelvin Tan: Simply love it. Made only a small portion of a bottle and a half, and the family finished the half bottle in one day. Wife actually made fresh scones to go with the jam. Thanks for the recipe. Will be making more with different fruits soon.

  • What to eat for smomach ache ( ulcer ) ? Foodrilla: […] Jam ( Click here to view the recipe […]

  • Mary: Does this really use 2 pounds of sugar? It seems like a lot. This recipe looks really good! Peach season seems so far away!
    JP’s Note: Yes, it really is that much sugar Mary. This is made in the traditional jam method, and that is how much sugar is needed to get the jam to set.

  • Kristi: Would this work as a freezer jam recipe or does it need to be canned?

  • Jennifer Perillo: Kristi,

    I haven’t made freezer jams. I believe they’re usually uncooked, and not sure how these ratios would thicken without cooking it first.

    JP

  • Joanne Palomino: Kristi: I have always wanted to make jam and we recently went to a local farm and picked our own peaches. I have many fresh picked ripe peaches and didn’t exactly know what to do with them. I am going to try to make this wonderful and easy jam recipe. Hope it comes out as good as yours!
    Joanne Palomino, Safford, AZ

  • Sandra robinson: Hi, I am living on a small delightful island in the Aegean Sea called Skiathos where peaches are plentiful and delicious. I bought a huge canning jar and now it’s boiling away happily…

  • Kassandra: Thanks for this great-looking recipe! Do you think the jam could be kept in the freezer after making?

  • Jennifer Perillo: I think that would be fine Kassandra. —jennie

  • Theresa E: I put this is canning jars but have no idea how to actually can them. Just wondering how long this should last in the fridge?

  • Jennifer Perillo: Theresa,

    I’ve kept my jams in the fridge for a few weeks with no problem. We usually finish them up that quickly.

    Jennie

  • A Can-Can Kind of Day | All The Space In-between: […] the recipe I wanted to make.  I decided to make preserves without pectin, following the advice of In Jennie’s Kitchen.  Her recipes are amazing!  So her peach jam is easy and requires no pectin, just LOTS of sugar! […]

  • Tabitha Hawker: This was delicious. I used honey (and a little less than the recipe suggests because honey is so sugary) instead of the sugar, added a little cinnamon, and mashed the peaches a tiny bit in the pot. I’ll be using this recipe again for sure.

  • Tabitha Hawker: (I put these on homemade banana oat muffins; so good)

  • Pam Hoag: I made this last weekend and I am making it again today. Everyone loved it. It is so easy and so good. I didn’t add any flavor to it, just kept it natural.

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