Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Peaches peaches everywhere

Last summer I made perhaps 24 quart jars of honeyed peaches, using them as "hostess" gifts when invited to a friend's for dinner, and plying my own guests with them as part of dessert.  Peaches were so deliciously plentiful last summer that I also made canned peach salsa.  And then turned to canning honeyed pears when the peaches ran out.

So this year I was wildly anticipating a stellar honeyed peach canning season, wanting to make even more than last year to bring to the Berkshire Grown preserve swap on Saturday Oct 15 at the GB farmers market (please mark your calendar now!).  And just recently I came across a killer recipe for peach-ginger jam that is most delicious, so I had need of lots of peaches.

Thus, imagine my consternation at not being able to find good peaches after the end of August.  Not at Guido's.  Not at Taft Farm, not at the farmers market.  I've spent a fortune on hard peaches that promised to ripen well, but instead ripened badly.  Kind of like sponges.  So my cache of honeyed peaches is much smaller than anticipated, but I've got a dozen half-pint jars of utterly divine jam.  This has been an expensive lesson in making sure that next year I do the peach canning in mid-late August.

My friend Jane Kasten, probably the most intuitive cook I know, taught me how to can fruits and vegetables with the recipe below for honeyed peaches.  I'd always been leery of canning, feeling I'd do it wrong and end up poisoning either myself or guests.  Jane persuaded me that canning is basically simple, which it is.  Time-consuming, yes, but that's a different issue. 

The peach ginger jam comes from  I made a small batch in early August, and made a lot of friends happy when I gave them a jar.  Because you're cooking the peaches down, they don't have to be as perfect as the ones bathed in honey water.

Jane Kasten's honeyed peaches

10 lbs peaches
1 ½ qt water (6 c)
1 ¾ c honey

With a sharp knife, make an “X” at the bottom of the peaches. Blanch in boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes, then put in colander and run cold water over them.

Peel and pit. Cut into halves or quarters and put into sterilized* jars 1” from top.

Meanwhile, while water is boiling in hot water bath pot, boil the water and honey until latter is dissolved. Pour over peaches to same level.

Put lids on and then rim, but leave rim loose-ish. Place in hot water bath and make sure bottles are covered by about 1” with boiling water. Boil for 30 minutes. The 30 minutes is from the time the water reboils after the bottles have been put in.

When finished, remove from water bath and place on counter. Wait to hear the lids pop. If they do, screw rims on tighter and then store jars for up to one year. If they lid don’t pop, just place in refrigerator and eat within a reasonable time.

*To sterilize jars before filling, wash with soap and water, and dry with towel. Then put in 250 oven for about ½ hour. Or, run through dishwasher.

P.S. Try to make sure that you buy “freestone” peaches. “Cling” peaches do just that to the pits, rendering them quite difficult for canning.

Ginger peach jam from

Serves 12 half pint jars plus some for the fridge
Sterilize your jars and put two spoons in the freezer. Bring the peaches and riesling to a boil in a big heavy pot. Add both gingers - I microplane the fresh ginger straight in there. Add the cinnamon. Simmer and stir for about 10 minutes until the peaches are soft. You may want to mash them a bit with a potato masher to break up the chunks.

Whisk the pectin into 1 c sugar. Add the sugar / pectin and bring the jam back to a boil. Taste it for sweeteness and add more sugar if you need / want. Add in the butter and simmer / stir for another minute or so, then drizzle a bit of jam onto your frozen spoon. Run your finger through it, if the path stays clear your jam is done!

Fill each jar to the first thread - this leaves 1/4 - 1/2 inch head room. Clean and dry the rim, place a dried top on (those were in hot water, right?) and secure them with a ring. Process / boil the jars for 10 minutes then remove them and let them sit undisturbed until completely cool - 12 hours minimum. That's it!


1 comment:

  1. I love this blog, Laury. I, too, am disappointed with the peaches in late season. Got some HUGE lovely looking ones recently, and you're right. Sponge-like. I mixed in some simple syrup & will pureee it & use it as a daquiri or marguerita base. Next year I will pick my own in July and try your recipes.