I’ve said this before, but it’s always worth repeating. When making jam, use fruit from the seconds bin. This is usually fruit farmers don’t see fit for sale at full price. Frankly, it always perplexes me, the way people think fruit should be pristine and blemish free. I wonder if that’s the reason produce is so pricey in general. Life is rarely so perfect, so why should we be so demanding of our fruit? Provided it still tastes delicious, and isn’t riddled with bruises that can make it inedible, a bump here, and nick there shouldn’t be a deterrent.
Another reason for raiding the seconds bin is that fruit placed in them tends to be very ripe, some might think too ripe for eating. A juicy nectarine has never been a problem for me, and this is exactly the kind of fruit perfect for making jam. If you insist on paying upwards of $3 per pound for perfect nectarines, the going price at the farmstand I frequent, that’s your call. If you’re making jam, the 99 cents a pound fruit from the seconds bin is the way to go (and what I also buy for eating).
This nectarine jam is a riff on my Easy Peach Jam, with one noticeable difference. I cut back on the sugar here because I also found some summer apples, the zestar variety, at the farmstand. These early apples are high naturally occurring pectin. There’s no need to peel them, especially since the skins are packed with pectin. Just grate some into the pot with the nectarines, sugar, and lemon juice.
Summer apples aren’t something you’ll find at the supermarket, so you’ll need to increase the sugar to 4 cups if you don’t use them. A granny smith apple could work, too, but I would also add a few thick slices of lemon rind with the white pith still attached, to the pot. The pith has natural pectin in it, too.
This is my first year making nectarine jam, and it won’t be my last. It’s been on my mental To Do list for years, so I’ve got a lot of lost time to make up. Oh, and one last note. Unlike with peach jam, don’t fret about the skins here. I find they kind of melt into the jam as it cooks.
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Easy Nectarine Jam
- 2½ pounds (1⅛ kilos) very ripe nectarines (about 9), pitted & chopped (no need to peel)
- 3 cups (600 grams) granulated natural cane sugar
- 1 small tart summer apple, grated (no need to peel)
- Freshly squeezed 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, apple, 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.