Preserving Jam and Nature

Just before this epic heat wave started, I bought two bags of very ripe fruit with the intention of making some jam. I’m no jam making expert but I certainly enjoy it. However, those plans were put on hold while the temps rose over the 90s.

My favorite way to combat the heat is with a book about somewhere cold. In this case, England, which is at least colder than here since their heat wave only got up to 85°. If you haven’t read Robert MacFarlane’s The Wild Places, you really should. It is a beautiful ode to nature and make me wish that it was fall already.

I am still looking for a good book which can teach me more about jam making and preferably has recipes for peach jam. I love peach jam and so seldom find it in stores. Please offer up for your favorite jam book suggestions!

Anyways, being in a fall state of mind, I set about making a peach-raspberry and nectarine-ginger jam. Neither come from one exact recipe so I am not sure that they have the amount of sugar needed to be stored for a full year once canned. Perhaps it would be better that everyone stored this jam in the freezer until I’ve tested it myself. I don’t want my readers, the few of you that there are, getting sick!

Peach Raspberry Jam
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

2 c sugar
12 oz raspberries (I used frozen)
3 lb peaches, cut into 1” chunks
3 tbsp lemon juice

Place small plate in freezer to chill. Heat sugar and raspberries in large pot over medium heat and stir until raspberries break down slightly.

Stir in peaches and increase heat to medium-high. Bring fruit mixture to boil and cook until mixture thickens to jam-like consistency, 20 to 30 minutes.

To test for set point, remove saucepan from heat. Spoon some hot jam onto chilled plate. Allow to cool briefly, then nudge. If the jam wrinkles and is slightly firm, stir in lemon juice. Otherwise, return pot to the heat and test again after several minutes. Seal jam jars for long-term storage or refrigerate.

Nectarine-Ginger Jam
Inspired by Martha Stewart

1 ½ lb sugar
1 tsp salt
4 lb nectarines, cut into 1” chunks
¼ c lemon juice
¼ c candied ginger, minced (optional)

Place nectarines into large pot and smash under fruit is broken down. Add sugar, salt, and lemon juice; toss. Let stand for 1 hour until sugar is incorporated.

Place small plate in freezer to chill. Slowly bring nectarine mixture up to a boil over medium heat. Boil rapidly for 20-30 minutes until syrupy. To test for set point, remove saucepan from heat. Spoon some hot jam onto chilled plate. Allow to cool briefly, then nudge. If the jam wrinkles and is slightly firm, stir in lemon juice. Otherwise, return pot to the heat and test again after several minutes.

Add candied ginger to warm jam or into jars. Allow to infuse several days to take advantage of ginger flavors. Seal jam jars for long-term storage or refrigerate.

Sealing Jam Jars

Transfer jam to hot jars with tight-fitting lids leaving 1/4” space in each jar’s neck. Wipe rims and tightly screw on lids. Transfer jars, using tongs or a jar clamp, to a large pot filled with hot water. Jars should be covered by 2” of hot water.

Cover and bring to a boil. Process jars in gently boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove from water and allow jars to cool 24 hours. If lids pop back when pressed, they are not sealed; use immediately. Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place up to 1 year.

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