a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Making Jam with Sweet Juicy Ripe Peaches

Our kitchen smells wonderful.  Over the last two days, I have bottled more than 40 pints of jam. The common ingredient in every variation is sweet! juicy! ripe! peaches!

We think our  favorite jam recipe is scrumptious --- and so does everyone who tries it. Among all of the pluses, it has only one drawback.  It is soft, almost runny, but that is a small inconvenience compared to its relative ease, cost savings, and positive deliciousness. And, this consistency makes it absolutely perfect for topping ice cream, angel cakes, pancakes, waffles and more. 

If you would like your jam firmer, see Thickener below.

While I usually use peaches as the base, this recipe can be adapted to most fruits, even drained, canned ones (which is great if you want to make jam in winter when fresh fruit isn't available---at least not cheaply!).

Pectin is the traditional thickener in jams and jellies --- and currently costs $2 or more per recipe. This recipe uses flavored gelatin at about 40 cents per recipe!

Last year a friend and I made it with pears and cherry gelatin; peaches, crushed pineapple and orange gelatin, and peaches with raspberry gelatin, in addition the original recipe below. The combinations are only limited by your imagination.

Peach Plus Jam
4 cups peeled and crushed peaches
5 cups sugar
10 ounce container frozen raspberries, undrained
One 4-serving size raspberry gelatin
2 T. lemon juice, fresh or bottled

In large pot, bring crushed peaches, undrained raspberries, and sugar to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add gelatin and lemon juice and continue to boil, stirring occasionally,  for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Makes about 8 cups.

Pour into sterilized canning jars (whatever size(s) you wish) to within 1/4" to 1/2" of the top. Wipe off top rims of jars and seal with lids and rings immediately. Place on heavy towel to until completely cool. Check seals by pushing on lids; they should not flex.

The softness of the jam usually doesn't bother us---occasionally I would like it firmer. I have found a new, at least to me, product "clear jel" or "ultimate gel". It is a tasteless, easy-to-use gluten-free, modified food starch that can be stirred into hot or cold foods to thicken them.  When I want "thick" jam I just slowly and thoroughly stir a little of this gel into the jam, adjusting the amount according to the firmness I want.   It is also great for thickening pie fillings, gravies, salad dressings, glazes and more. It is also great for making freezer jam. Information is available on the Internet.

Jam-Making Hints: Amounts to Use, Peeling Ease, Sealing Security
1. The peaches I used today are about the size of medium apples. It takes about 7 or 8 peaches, of this size, to equal 4 cups crushed peaches.  I use a blender, food chopper or potato masher to roughly crush them (we like some small pieces of fruit in the jam).

2. To make peeling the peaches easier, I put them in pot of boiling water, remove after about one minute, and put in large bowl of cold water. By doing this, the skins using slip off, or at least peel very easily.

3. As a little extra lid-sealing insurance, I put the hot jars upside down on the heavy  towel to cool. I am not sure if it really helps. . .but it doesn't hurt either!

'til we eat again
 Simply, Gail


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