Summer is a time to jam. Not with instruments but with fruit and sugar. It seems silly to stand over a pot of boiling jam in a kitchen where the mercury is already pushing 40C/104F but there is just such so much beautiful fruit in our garden I can't not. Strawberries, plums, peaches and nectarines, our trees are bending and sagging with the weight of it all. I picked a few kilos of peaches yesterday. The fuzzy little butt emojis are just begging to be baked into pies and cakes and galettes. Or boiled down into jams and cordials. All I want to do is be in the kitchen, recipe testing and baking my little winter heart out but it's just too damn hot. So I settle for jam making at the moment, it doesn't take long and I can stick my head in the freezer in between stirring the pot.
Jam isn't complicated. Chop, boil, thicken, jar. That is pretty much it. A general rule is equal parts fruit and sugar ( I managed to cut down a lot of sugar because these peaches are super sweet enough already) and to include an amount of pectin to help the jam to set. Some recipes will use pectin powder, others will have you break up the peach pits to release the pectin but I prefer to use the juice of a lemon. Some recipes will have you use a candy thermometer, but I do it how my grandmother did and test it on plates that have been stored in the freezer. By dropping jam on the cold plates you can test the consistency to see what the jam will be like when it cools.
WHITE PEACH & VANILLA JAM
- 5 cups chopped & peeled peaches about 1.5 Kilo/ 3 pounds whole peaches
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
- Juice of a small lemon
Place a couple of saucers in the freezer.
Place all ingredients in a large saucepan, stir to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Continuing boiling, frequently stirring and skimming off any foam that gathers on the surface. Break up the peach pieces occasionally using a masher.
Test a few drops of jam on a plate from the freezer every so often to test consistency. Once thickened to desired consistency, remove from the heat and allow to cool just slightly. Transfer into sterilised jam jars and seal.