Why It Works
- Blanching the peaches and shocking them in ice water makes for easy peeling.
- Simmering the jam for only a short time preserves its fresh, ripe peach flavor and maximizes the yield.
- Adding liquid pectin ensures the jam will gel properly, despite the minimal simmering time.
Do you remember the part in James and the Giant Peach when James first climbs into the fruit? He crawls through a tunnel to the pit, stopping along the way to take bites out of the sweet, juicy, walls around him. What I wouldn't give to be James in that moment! Few things in life are better than biting into a fuzzy, sun-warmed peach, the nectar dribbling down your chin. This simple jam is full of ripe, fresh peach flavor with hints of bourbon, cinnamon, and vanilla. I'd like to think it would make James salivate.
In the summertime I can be a little bit lazy when it comes to cooking. Sure, peach jam is my all-time favorite, but berry jam is so much easier to make because it doesn't involve all that blanching, peeling, and chopping. But then late July rolls around and I realize that if I don't make my annual batch soon, I'll miss my chance. Panicked, I race to the farmers' market to buy as many pounds of peaches as I can carry.
This year I decided to vary my standard peach jam by adding a big splash of bourbon, a cinnamon stick, and a vanilla bean. This recipe would also be delicious with dark rum, or you could try a more delicate flavor, like riesling or Champagne. Since peaches are extremely juicy, this jam might not set quite as firmly as some others. If you're worried, add an extra tablespoon of liquid pectin. I like to serve this jam with warm buttermilk biscuits, or use it as a filling for a quick summer tart.
This article was originally published as part of the column "Preserved."
3 1/2 pounds ripe peaches
7 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup bourbon
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
One (6-ounce) package liquid pectin (2 foil packets)
If you are going to preserve the jam, prepare the jars and lids: place 6 half-pint jars on a rack in a large pot. Add enough water to cover jars, and bring to boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and allow jars to rest in hot water. Meanwhile, put bands and lids in a small saucepan and cover with water. Heat over medium heat until water is simmering, then remove pan from heat and allow bands and lids to rest in hot water until ready to use.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Cut a shallow X into the bottom of each peach and drop them into the boiling water. Blanch for 20 to 30 seconds, then immediately plunge peaches into ice water. Peel, pit, and chop the peaches. Transfer them to a blender and pulse just until they are coarsely puréed. You should have about 4 cups of purée.
Transfer peaches to a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add sugar, lemon juice, bourbon, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and butter. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Add pectin and return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove pot from heat and skim any foam from the surface with a metal spoon. Discard cinnamon stick and vanilla bean.
Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims of the jars, cover with lids, and screw bands on until just barely tight. Place jars on rack in pot and cover completely with water. Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, uncover pot, and allow jars to rest in water for 5 minutes. Remove jars from pot and allow them to rest undisturbed on countertop for 6 hours or overnight. Preserved jam will keep for up to 1 year in a cool, dark place. Unpreserved jam will keep in the refrigerator for about 6 months.
Half-pint canning jars, large pot
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 38g||14%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 34g|
|Vitamin C 3mg||13%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|