Peach Ginger Jam
I have not had one minute to cook anything for the last couple of weeks between working at the Toronto Film Festival, school starting up and life in general. Today, I was gifted with a glorious day off mid festival and so I after yoga, i set off to the grocery store to gets supplies for dinner and found some lovely, Ontario peaches and knew I had to make a little batch of jam with them.
I had been planning to do a plum jam with cinnamon and crystallized ginger but didn't get around to it so I made some peach jam with the ginger instead. I knew I didn't want to bother with pectin and because it was such a small batch, I wouldn't bother with a water bath either. I would keep a jar and give the other jar to The Neighbours. After searching around, I found this recipe for Peach Vanilla Jam on Seasons and Suppers and decided to use it with a couple of tweaks. This recipe only makes a couple medium sized jars or one larger one but I like the idea of making a jar to eat instead of always making a big production out of it.
I will share my little problem with you here - I used two different candy thermometers yesterday because i was so sure it was ready and it wasn't even at 200F yet. The second thermometer had it reach 220F when the first one was still hovering around 218F and even then, I know it was done way before that. My jam was delicious but way too firm. GET A DECENT DIGITAL READ THERMOMETER IF YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE JAM.
I ordered one online right after I finished this batch.
Peach Vanilla Jam with Crystalized Ginger
adapted from Peach Vanilla Jam
2 lbs of fresh peaches, peeled and chopped (you will get about 2 cups)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 tbls finely chopped crystalized ginger
2 tbls lemon juice
1 tsp butter
prep your jars. Since I wasn't processing them, I just threw the two jars i was using into a big pot of boiling water and turned it off and let them sit until I was ready for them.
To get your peaches ready, bring a pot of water to the boil, throw in the peaches and simmer them for a couple of minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and throw them in a ice water bath or run them under very cold tap water. This will make it possible to just slip the skins off of them. I don't stress out if the odd bit of skin stays on. Then you chop them up into chunks over the bowl so you don't waste any good juices.
Mix the peaches with the sugars, the lemon juice and the vanilla bean and all the stuff you scraped out of it, the lemon juice, salt and butter and then put that into a heavy pot or an enamelled cast iron pot like a le creuset pot (you just wipe that thing clean after and it conducts the heat so evenly that it makes it perfect for jam making).
clip your candy thermometer to the side of your pot (or use a digital thermometer and keep checking it until it reaches 220F). You know there are a million ways to test your jam but it's so much easier to just keep letting it simmer until it reaches 220F so if you want to make jam, get a good thermometer.
Bring it to a boil over med high heat, stirring pretty constantly and then turn it down to med or med low and let it simmer nicely until it reaches 220F. I have never had it reach this gel point in the amount of time that recipes tells me it will happen because it depends on so many factors like humidity, temperature, where you sit regarding sea level. This recipe said ten minutes but it was longer than that. You can also use the cold plate method if you feel more comfortable with that.
When it's finally at gel point, remove your jars from the pot of hot water and ladle the jam into the hot jars. Wipe the rim with a clean, damp cloth to make sure there is no jam on it and put your lid on. At this point, you will have to store it in the fridge after it cools to room temp. You could also put it into freezer containers and freeze it or you could process it in a water bath if wanted to.