A delicious way to preserve summer’s bounty!
I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a household that prized growing and preserving food as one of life’s great, joyful privileges. Each year, I loved working with my mom and sisters to can the scores of jars of fruit and vegetable preserves that would line the shelves of our cold cellar to keep us fed throughout the fall, winter and spring. Peach jam has always been a particular favourite of mine. My mom always put chopped maraschino cherries in hers; I prefer the subtle notes of freshly ground cardamom instead (but you can definitely make it without the cardamom as well). When making jam, be sure to use a pot that is more than double the volume of fruit and sugar so it will have room to boil ferociously without spilling over the top.
- 4 cups chopped ripe peaches (about 1 1/2 lb / 680 g of peaches)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) freshly ground cardamom seeds (from green pods)
- 7 1/2 cups (1.5 kg) granulated sugar
- 2 pouches (170 mL) liquid pectin
- Peel peaches. Cut a shallow ‘x’ on the bottom of each one (opposite the stem end) then place in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for two minutes then remove the peaches from the water one at a time and peel with a small sharp knife. Cut the peaches into pieces and add to a large measuring cup so you can see when you have 4 cups of prepared peaches.
- Crack open the cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle. Extract the small brownish-black seeds from the pods and grind these with a spice grinder or mortar and pestle until they are fine granules.
- Put the peaches in a very large pot and add the lemon juice, cardamom and sugar. Stir and cover and let sit for at least one hour or up to six hours to allow the fruit to macerate and release its juice.
- When ready to start making the jam, preheat an oven to 220 F. Wash six 1 cup (250 mL) canning jars (or equivalent in other sizes) and place the glass jars in the oven. Turn off oven. Put the canning rings, new sealing lids and a canning or wide-mouth funnel in a pot of water and place on the stove over medium low heat to sterilize them.
- Lightly pulse the peach, sugar and juice mixture in the pot using a stick blender to break up most of the larger pieces. Do not purée. Alternatively, use a potato masher.
- Place the pot of peach mixture over medium high heat and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring often. As soon as it has come to a full boil, add the pectin quickly and start to distribute evenly. As soon as it comes back to a full boil set a timer for one minute. Stir frequently during that minute then remove from heat when the time has elapsed. Stir the peach jam mixture for five minutes as it cools, using a slotted spoon to remove and discard any pale yellow foam that has accumulated on top.
- Use an extremely clean ladle to transfer the jam into the jars with the funnel to make the process easier. With a clean damp cloth, wipe the rim of each jar before applying the sealing lid and ring to the top of each jar, turning until just tightened. Repeat with remaining jars.
- If you wish to store the jars of jam in a cool place like a basement or cold cellar for a year or so, immediately process in a hot water bath. Note that the hot water bath processing is not necessary if you plan to store the jam for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.
Makes approximately 6 cups (1.5 L) of jam.