Preserved: Bourbon Peach Jam


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 proud.

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.