This was my first time making jam or canning and despite being fairly intimidated but the process, it turned out well and wasn’t nearly as difficult as I expected. The jam is delicious and the bright peach flavor partners wonderfully with vanilla beans. I’m sure it’ll taste even better in the middle of winter when fresh peaches are hard to come by!
There are a number of great resources online about canning, this one from the USDA is hugely informative if you want lots of nitty gritty details. If you’d like something a little more simple, the jar company Ball has a great guide too. I’ll include the canning process I used in the directions, but I’m far from a pro, so feel free to check out other guides too!
I cut back on the sugar in the recipe by a little over a half cup. The taste of my jam is still great, but the consistency is just a little on the watery side, so I’m guessing the sugar is important for the jam’s texture and I wouldn’t recommend you cut back on it (unless of course you’re fine with the jam not being as thick as normal!). Do make sure your peaches are fully ripe, if they are under-ripe the peach flavor won’t be nearly as strong.
- 3 lbs. ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped prior to weighing
- 3½ cups sugar
- 1-2 vanilla beans, sliced in half with the seeds scraped out
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- To peel the peaches, bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut a small 'x' in the bottom of each peach and put it in the pot of boiling water for approximately 45 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove the peach and put it in a bowl with ice water until it cools off enough to handle. At that point you should be able to slide the peel off easily.
- Mix the chopped peaches, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla bean seeds and pods in a large pot over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat a to simmer and stir frequently until the fruit has started to caramelize, which will take about an hour and a half.
- Remove the vanilla bean pods. If the fruit mixture is too chunky, briefly pulse it in a food processor. Can the fruit using the method of your choice, or store it in the fridge or freezer.
- If you choose to can the jam, begin by washing your jars, lids and cans in hot soapy water.
- If you have a canning rack, place it in the bottom of a large pot filled with water. I didn't have a canning rack and instead placed some small, smooth rocks in the bottom of the pot. You just need to put something in there to keep the jars from sitting directly on the bottom of the pot and to allow water to circulate around the jars. Place the clean jars in the pot of water and bring it to a boil.
- When the fruit mixture is ready, remove the jars from the boiling water and fill them with the jam, leaving about ½ inch of space at the top. Use a clean, damp paper towel to clean the rim of the jar before putting on the lid and twisting the band. You don't want to the band to be super tight, just tight enough that water won't get in.
- Place the jars in a pot of boiling water on top of the canning rack (or rocks) making sure there is at least one inch of water above each jar. If your altitude is less than 1,000 feet, boil the cans for 15 minutes, if you're above 1,000 feet, check page 6 of the Ball Canning Guide to see how much to increase the boiling time.
- After the appropriate amount of cooking time, use tongs to carefully remove the jars from the boiling water and place them on a kitchen towel to cool. As they cool, the tops should pop and there will be a slight indentation in the lid which indicates the canning process was a success!
From Smells Like Home