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October 12, 2010

Cherry peach jam

cherry peach jam 2

I am a devoted reader of Food in Jars, but I cannot tell a lie.  My early jam attempts did not come out that well.  It scared me off committing more fruit.  I just kept thinking, “But it’s so yummy to eat.  What if I ruin it?” 

There’s nothing like watching a confident cook do his or her thing to inspire me, though!  So, after Niki invited me over to assist with her ginger peach jam (and told me that she had already consumed multiple pints of the peach jam she had made a few weeks earlier), I decided to make another attempt.

peeled peaches

Prep was easy.  I blanched and peeled the peaches, and chopped up some of the cherries I froze when sour cherries abounded. I ran the jars through the dishwasher (with hot dry finish) to get them nice and hot for the jam.

Then I started the jam, and it was a piece of cake!  What was the difference this time? I followed all the instructions. (Ok, I mostly followed them.)  Bakers and those of you who like to follow recipes will laugh at me.  Those of you who prefer to freestyle may understand.  In the past, I thought, well, how much jam do I need?  I’ll just make one jar.  Maybe Marisa has an innate instinct for pectin and sugar and fruit ratios.  I do not.  I followed the instructions in the pectin box, and voila! Jam!

cherry peach jam

Since then, I’ve been on a canning spree.  I’ve made apple butter, apple sauce, and raspberry peach jam.  I’ve confirmed my preference for low-sugar pectin. (If you like very sweet jam, and would like a jar of raspberry peach, give me a holler — it is fantastic on pancakes!)  A life of following the instructions is a life of jamming ease.

A hot tip for those of you who have been considering canning something, but don’t know that you really want to have 8 pint jars hanging around your house since most jam recipes are for 3-4 pints: Market Blooms in Reading Terminal Market is selling loose jars.  They’re more than you would pay if you bought a pack (3 for $4), but if you want to give it a shot without committing to a case, or want one or two of a different size (ahem, applesauce quarts), it’s a good way to go.  They’re at the location back by Iovine’s, not the flower stall across from Bassett’s.

Cherry Peach Jam (adapted from the Sure Jell Pectin instructions)

  • 4 cups peeled and chopped peaches
  • 1 cup chopped sour cherries
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 box Sure Jell low-sugar pectin
  • 1/2 tsp butter

Put peaches, cherries, lemon juice, 2 1/4 cups sugar and butter in a large, non-reactive pot and bring to a boil.  When they’re boiling rapidly, and cannot be stirred down, mix the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the pectin, and pour into the jam.  Keep boiling for another minute.  You have made jam.

Many sets of instructions on properly prepping, filling and sealing your jars can be found online.  Trust the experts.

 Based on the confidence boost that watching Niki produced, if you’ve been hesitating to jump into the canning pool, I’d suggest checking out one of Marisa’s upcoming classes.  I hear the students never leave empty-handed!

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