when life hands you peaches . . . well, we had them in spades this year on the not-so-little-anymore peachtree we planted in our backyard 4 years ago. in years past, i haven’t done much with them. but this year, there were just. so. many. i had to do something. problem was we had to pick most of them before they ripened because they were just weighing down the tree so much. in fact our neighbors who share a limb or two actually had one break off from the weight.
at any rate, making jam was something i have always wanted to do and this gave me the perfect excuse! over the course of a couple weeks last month, i made 16 half pints with this peach preserves recipe. through some trial and error, each batch turned out a little different, but they were all delicious! and i definitely learned a lot about what to do and not to do along the way:
- check your pectin. so who knew there was a kind designed for freezer jam (who ever heard of that, by the way??) and a kind for regular old stove-top jam? of course i picked up the cold kind, having no idea what i was doing. in the end, it worked out. i tried it cold and it didn’t even begin to set. so from there on out, everything got boiled and came out perfect.
- blanching makes a difference. especially when the fruit isn’t really ripe, that few minutes in boiling water is definitely necessary to soften it up.
- skins don’t make a difference. while we had a million peaches, each one was only slightly larger than a golf ball. it took 30 just to make the first 2 pints. imagine peeling and chopping 30 effing peaches just for one batch. a little research told me that i could totally do it with the skins on, so that’s what i did. and it actually gave the final product a really pretty pink color that i loved.
- purée for consistency. again, with slightly unripe fruit, there were some texture issues. the first batch was pretty chunky, so i decided for the second batch that i would use my immersion blender to purée about half of the mixture, then fold it back into the rest of the batch before jarring it. turned out perfect. unfortunately, by the time i made batches 3 and 4 a few days later, i forgot i’d done it. oops! i will remember next year!
- try new flavors. i added a little fresh ginger to 2 pints and oh. my. gawd. so amazing. this also will be repeated next year.
i’m definitely planning on trying some kinds other than peach over the course of the next year and also will be searching for some cute ideas for jar labels/tags/decorations. let me know if you’ve seen anything really cute!