Ok, it’s been a loooong time, but I’m back and ready to post about something AWESOME: Making Jam!!
I’ve always been interested in making jam – it makes for such a nice, personal gift – and I fondly remember when my dad used to make it when we were little. I just wasn’t sure how it was done and the task seemed a little daunting.
Let me start off by saying this: It’s actually not hard! The more complicated part is the canning – but even that is actually pretty cool and fun.
After some quick Google searching (gotta love Google) I came across a really helpful blog post by a woman who enters her jam in competitions. She includes some great in-depth information about what to do, a bunch of progress photos, as well as a more concise recipe section at the bottom of the post (also included at the bottom of *this* post). But I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you read her entire post before attempting the recipe – it’ll make the process SO MUCH EASIER. And you’ll learn a lot of really valuable stuff for future canning endeavours.
Since this was our first time making jam we wanted to try something super simple, so we chose pectin-free peach jam. Pectin is that powdery stuff that helps to thicken jams & preserves… but we were able to achieve a thick yet spreadable consistency by just being patient and spending a little more time slowly boiling down/’reducing’ our concoction. (Note: You can’t rush this process since you could risk burning your jam – and it tends to spit all over the place when you turn up the heat… Yes, I tried…). I like my jam a little softer/more spreadable anyhow (I’d rather my jam doesn’t come out of the jar in chunks), so this turned out perfectly:
Here’s the quick version of the recipe we found online:
- 4 pounds of fresh Peaches
- 3 cups of Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice
- 1/2 cup of Water
- Wash jars and bands in hot, soapy water. Rinse
- Place jars inside a canner filled with water, bring to boil.
- Boil jars for 15 minutes to sterilize.
- Place lids and bands in warm water, do not boil. Leave until ready to use.
- Rinse the peaches under cool running water.
- Place whole fresh peaches in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes.
- Remove and place in a sink with cold ice water.
- Peel peaches, remove the pit, slice in half, then into quarters.
- Slice each quarter into 2 or 3 chunks.
- Place cut peaches in bowl and toss with lemon juice.
- Place in food processor and pulse into small bits but do not liquefy.
- Place a saucepot on stove, set to medium heat.
- Add water, then sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Add peach pulp and continue to stir until it thickens.
- As it thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking and burning.
- When done, ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
- Remove air bubbles, wipe rim, add lid and band. Finger tighten.
- Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner or according to the time for your altitude.
- Remove from canner, and place on folded towel for 24 hours in a draft free location.
- May be stored in a dark cool place for a year or longer.
We took some video footage of our experience making the jam and put it on Instagram – but I’ll include links to them here as well:
Before you try out the recipe, you may be interested in reading about the simple modifications we made, making our life a little easier:
- Except for the jars and fruit, you probably already have everything you need at home. We didn’t buy a canner, rack, special measuring utensil, can remover (to protect hands from the hot water) or funnel. If you want to, though, Canadian Tire offers a kit for $50 or a tool kit without the canner and rack for $16. Instead, we used two pots, a ruler, rubber gloves from the dollar store, and made a funnel from the top end of a plastic bottle. Our 12-pack of adorable bitty 125 mL cans came from Loblaws for about $12. (I’m a tad peeved since I just spotted the same pack available for $7.79 on Canadian Tire’s site – but what can ya do? We were already at Loblaws for the peaches so getting the jars there was convenient.)
- Not enough big pots? No problem. I didn’t have an extra pot to boil the peaches in (to remove the skins) since my 2 big pots were already in use sterilizing the cans, so I put them in a big bowl and poured hot water from our kettle into it. I placed the bowl in the sink and then added a second kettle of boiled water to loosen the skins a bit more. Worked like a charm.
- You can play around with flavours. We decided to take out some peaches and add in a mango for a slightly different flavour. Why not? Worked out well (since the overall fruit weight was still the same). You can try all sorts of fruit combos – have fun with it!
- You don’t have to take recipes too literally. I don’t own a food processor yet, so we carefully pulsed the fruit in the blender (making sure we didn’t completely liquify it – we wanted some little fruit chunks still visible).
- Oops. I forgot to toss the lemon juice on the sliced peaches so I added it into the blender and mixed it around with a spoon. This was ok since I worked quickly with the peaches, but if you let yours sit on the counter for a while they may brown – the lemon helps prevent this.
- If you don’t own a canner & rack and decide to just use pots like we did, make sure you put your jars into the water while it’s still cool/lukewarm – this helps prevent them from cracking. I also didn’t bring the water to a rolling boil since I didn’t want my jars knocking against each other – so you may want to keep an eye on that. Some people use a towel for the bottom of the pot and between the jars – that’s up to you. Ours turned out fine and they ALL sealed properly! It was SO satisfying to hear the lids ping shut after removing them from the water, indicating they were properly done. Woo hoo!
- You’re going to wonder when the mixture has boiled down enough, and when it’s ready to place in the cans. Here’s what you do to check: Spoon a little bit of your mixture onto a plate and let it cool a bit. Then, run a finger through the middle. There should still be a space where your finger just was. If the jam quickly goes back to fill that space, it’s not ready yet.
The jam turned out deliciously!!
We spread some on leftover biscuits we had from brunch the other day, and on some hot, slightly crunchy toast. Mmm!
Now they’re lined up for some special folks, and we can’t wait to make more batches to give as gifts to more people.
If you have any questions feel free to put them in the comments section below – I’ll do my best to answer them!