All you need are three ingredients to make this easy peach jam—peaches, sugar and lemon juice. A bit of patience is necessary too, but I’m taking that ingredient as a freebie, and not adding it to my count. A note about selecting your peaches—try to get freestone peaches, as the pits release easily with minimal coaxing from the tip of your thumbnail. Cling peaches work absolutely fine, but you’ll lose a little of the meat cutting the flesh from the pit. At this late point in the game, I say go with whatever peaches you’ve got, but thought I’d add that tidbit if you do have a choice when you’re at the market.
As for peeling the peaches, a very ripe peach usually sheds it’s skin easily. I get it started with the tip of a paring knife, and pull it away from there. If your skins are persistent, you can score them (cut an “X” in the bottom), and add them to a pot of boiling water for one minute, until the skins loosen. You’ll need to let them cool enough so you can handle them, before slipping the skins off. This means you’ll need more prep time for making your jam, but it’s not at all difficult—just plan accordingly.
The jams I’ve been making this summer, this one included, remind me a lot of Christine Ferber’s, in that they’re a little on the runny side when first made. They set up more, and thicken further once opened and chilled. I wanted to create a jam with a pure peach flavor, but feel free to experiment if you want to dress it up a bit. I can see vanilla bean, lemon thyme, mint, or a hint of cinnamon working very well.
Just Peachy Jam
makes 2 1/2 pints
I must confess, I skip the hot water method when making this jam, and simply turn my jars upside down after filling and tightening the tops. The heat from the hot jam is enough to create an airtight seal (that popping sound is music to my ears), and the amount of sugar is enough to keep it safe, too. That is how my friend’s French mother has been making her jam for years, and so far no one has perished. Once opened, though, it does need to be stored in the fridge to keep it from spoiling. If you prefer to dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s”, please do go ahead and process the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
2 1/2 pounds (1 1/8 kilos) very ripe peaches (about 9 peaches), peeled, pitted & chopped
2 pounds (1 kilo) granulated natural cane sugar
Freshly juice of 1 plump lemon
Place a small dish in the freezer. You will need this to test the jam for doneness.
Add the peaches, sugar and lemon juice to a deep stock pot. It’ll look lost in the pot, but you’ll need the space when it comes to a boil, trust me.
Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, over high heat. Use a wide spoon to skim the foam from the top. Don’t skip this step, or you’ll end up with a cloudy jam. It’s worth the extra minute or two of your time, I promise.
Once you’re done skimming the foam off, reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer (with bubbles constantly popping to the surface). Let the jam continue to cook until reduced by half, and thickened enough that it generously coats the back of a wooden spoon. At this point, you can start testing your jam for doneness. Remove the dish from the freezer, and drizzle a small amount on the plate. Tilt the plate sideways, and if it holds in place without being too runny, then it’s ready. The consistency will still be thin. Don’t worry it will thicken, and set up into a gel, as it cools.
Spoon the hot jam into clean, sterilized jars. Let cool completely before using.