peach vanilla jam

Peach Vanilla Jam

I do I do I do love the days when I let myself sleep in past an hour I would normally consider acceptable and provide no apologies for it whatsoever. Today was one of those days. While I spent most of the day procrastinating, and the other part emotionally beating myself up for it, I managed to get out and enjoy the day still.

One of my neighbors has a gorgeous tree full of ripe peaches and it’s driving me mad. Everyday during an otherwise routine walk to the mailbox , I imagine myself stripping the tree of all that makes it good, and running away in the dark, prize in hand , off to make something better than what I began with. This day has yet to come. Even now it is 3:41 a.m. and my neighbors are most likely asleep. I’ve still yet to take advantage of the tree.

My biggest fear is that the tree may never be fully realized. I realize that this is a slight exaggeration, given that other peoples’ biggest fears are those involving things like where will I get my next meal? Where will I go if it rains today?

Perhaps I’m an ass, but nevertheless, what I would do with these sweet, juicy bastards is make something that my 84 year old grandmother has deemed “the best peach jam” she has had in all of her life. I don’t know about you, but for me 84 years is a long and admirable peach jam-eating career.

For most of my jam-making career I’ve added pectin as a thickening agent. For this round of jam I decided to omit the pectin and go au natural. Having searched far and wide (the internet) for pectin-free peach jam recipes, I’ve concluded that without pectin, recipes call for a lot more sugar. Most recipes balance the sweetness out with the addition of lemon juice. Another benefit of this lemon juice is the natural pectin which resides within. If you are feeling a little crazy, you could even throw the lemon seeds in for a bit; they too contain pectin, but if you leave them in too long, the jam may become bitter. In this last batch of jam, I threw in an old vanilla bean. Nothing crazy…just something that was lying around, and it happened to take the jam to a whole ‘notha level. Fabulous, if I do say so myself.

Peach-Vanilla Jam

Makes 3 pints

  • 4 # peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 3 ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice + lemon seeds
  • 2 old vanilla beans or 1 vanilla bean, scraped

Mix chopped peaches, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan. Bring to a boil and skim foam from surface. Lower heat and continue to cook until mixture reaches the gel point (222-224 on a candy thermometer). Skim any remaining foam and ladle into clean, hot jars, leaving at least ¼ inch of space. Secure lids, and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

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