Chicago has been windy (duh), and rainy the last few days, but all the while has remained surprisingly warm. Going through 75 degree afternoons has had me wanting for the added bonuses of summer, particularly produce. I've had summer things on my mind... this peach jam being one of them.
In August I used the amazing Michigan peaches from our local fruit market to make Michigan Peachy Keen Jam for my family and friends. It's always so nice to have a little treat to bring the taste of summer into the brisk chill of fall and dreary, cozy, darkness of winter. Even though peach season is come and gone, feel free to try this recipe with in-season fruits. Figs or pears anyone?
Michigan Peachy Keen Jam
Adapted from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook
3 lbs Ripe yellow freestone peaches, peeled
1 lb White cane sugar
1.5 oz Lemon juice, fresh
2-3 Branches with peach leaves
Cut peaches in half, remove pits, and reserve. Slice peaches into 1/3 inch thick slices, and place into a large bowl. Add sugar and lemon juice, stir well. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to macerate in the refrigerator overnight.
Place peach pits in separate container and refrigerate overnight.
Place 5 metal teaspoons into the freezer for later testing. Extract kernels from inside peach pits by placing the pit inside a dish cloth and cracking it open with a hammer. Take inside kernels and place in a tea infuser with a tight latch.
Put peaches into a stainless steel pot (or copper if you have it). Stir well, and submerge tea infuser with pit kernels. Bring to a boil over high heat for about 5 minutes. Take off the heat, skim off the foam, and mash peaches to encourage breakdown.
Cook an additional 25-40 minutes until thickened, lowering the heat as jam continues to thicken to prevent sticking or burning.
To test jam for doneness, place a small representative sample of jam onto one of the teaspoons in your freezer. Return the spoon to the freezer for 3-4 minutes, until the bottom of the spoon feels room temperature when touched. Check the consistency- if it is too runny, continue to cook. Skim remaining foam. When cooking is complete, remove peach pit kernels and add the peach leaves, allowing to steep for 2 minutes. Remove leaves and discard.
Pour jam into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of room at the top. Wipe the rims clean, and attach lids. Process jars either by putting in boiling water for ~10 minutes, or by setting jars on a baking sheet and placing them in a 250 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove, and set to cool undisturbed, preferably overnight.
Eat. With toast. With yogurt. With oats. With ice cream. With a spoon. With peanut butter. You get the idea.
Maybe the sight and thought of peach jam will bring a little bit of a summer pep to your step :)