You guys are going to get sick and tired of me and my jam, but I can't help it. Each time the jars cooling on the counter pop, letting me know they're sealed tight for the long haul, my heart skips with joy. Soon there won't be enough toast to support all these jars, but that's why there are friends and holidays and random gifts.
Steph over at Steph Chows is hosting a little jam exchange program. There are still a few days before I know who my exchange partner will be, but in anticipation, I couldn't help but look at all of last years traveling jam jars. While a lot of them looked yummy, one in particular stood out and I saved it to make "in the distant future". Well, welcome to the future.
With peach season just starting, there are tons and tons of pretty peaches overflowing at fruit stands everywhere at extremely cheap prices. I got about 6 pounds for under $3, pulled up the recipe and got to work on Bean Town Baker's Vanilla Peach Bourbon Jam. Can I just tell you how much I love no sugar needed pectin? The first few jams I attempted were done without any commercial pectin, relying on the fruit and the sugar to set properly, and while it came out good, I was always worried that I'd end up with sauce instead of jam. And the one raspberry jam recipe that I tried to make without pectin came out good, but too sweet for me. This magical box gives me full control over the sweetness of the jam, all while more or less guaranteeing me the perfect set. How great is that?
My peaches were on the firmer side, so mashing them with a potato masher was sort of out of the question, plus I wanted a smoother consistency anyways, so I mixed the fruit with the sugar and lime juice, pulled out what is becoming one of my favorite kitchen tools, my immersion blender, and whipped the suckers into a coarse pulpy consistency. Once the mixture started getting hot, I dumped in the vanilla and stirred stirred stirred like crazy, the rest as they say is history. And now I have a dozen beautiful jars of jam cooling on the counter and emitting loud pops every minute or so to let me know they're settled in to wait for winter.
Vanilla Peach Bourbon Jam
adapted from Bean Town Baker
Note: I adjusted the proportions a little bit, so I ended up with a dozen 8oz jars and a bit smaller pectin to fruit ratio, but it still came out fantastic.
Before you begin either wash jars in the dishwasher on the extra hot water cycle, or wash them with hot soapy water and boil them for 10 minutes, leaving them on dry or in the boiling water until you need them for your jam. This sterilizes the jar and lengthens the shelf life of your jam. I ran them through the dishwasher on the sterilize cycle.
1 package no sugar pectin - I used Ball No Sugar needed box
6 pounds peaches
4 cups sugar
6 Tbsp lime juice
1 vanilla bean, split and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 Tbsp bourbon - I used Jim Beam
1.5 tsp almond extract
- The recipe suggests you blanch the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, submerge in an ice bath and then slip off the skins, but my peaches were prudes and that method didn't work, so I just used a peeler. Chop the peaches roughly into 1/4 inch dice, removing the pits.
- Put the peaches, sugar, and lime juice into a large non-reactive pot and smash/blend the suckers into a rough pulp using either a potato masher or an immersion blender.
- Put the pot over medium-high heat, add the vanilla pieces and bring the peach mixture to a rolling boil, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Boil for 1 minute, then add the pectin. Bring the jam to a rolling boil once more, stirring constantly, and boil exactly 1 minute.
- Remove the jam from heat. Stir in the bourbon and extract, ladle the hot jam into jars, and screw on the lids. Then set the jars on a rack in a large pot of boiling water--the water should be 1 inch above the jar tops. I just washed the pot I made the jam in (the only big pot I own), put the jars in, made sure they were under an inch of water and turned it on high.
- Bring the water to a gentle boil and boil the jars for 10 minutes. Then remove the jars from the hot water and set aside to cool. You should hear the lids popping within a few minutes of their bath.
- When the jam is cold, check the seals on the jars by pressing on the centers of the lids. If the lids do not spring back, they are vacuum sealed and the jam can be stored at room temperature. If the lid flexes, there is no seal, so store the jar in the fridge and enjoy it on a bagel in the morning. All of mine sealed, but I'm going to pretend one of them didn't and open it up tomorrow.