Peaches are in peak season right now and my favorite way to preserve them is to make jam. This time of year you can find ripe peaches almost anywhere and our local farmer’s market had a bushel at a price that couldn’t be beaten. Making jam is a two-day process as the peaches should macerate with sugar for at least 24 hours before boiling. Cranberry juice adds color as well as tartness to the jam, or lemon juice can be substituted.
Makes 5-6 8-oz jars of jam
5 pounds golden peaches
7 cups sugar
1 cup cranberry juice or 1/2 cup lemon juice
Sugar thermometer (optional); six 8-oz jam jars
1. To peel the peaches, bring a large pot of water to a boil. with a paring knife, cut the peaches around to the pit, following the indentation. To loosen the skin, drop a few of the peaches into the boiling water, leave about 30 seconds, lift out and set them on a tray. continue with the remaining fruit. Twist the peach halves with your hands to loosen the pits, or prize them apart with a knife. Reserve the pits.
2. Slice the peach halves in 6-8 chunks and put them in a large bowl. Add the sugar and cranberry or lemon juice.and stir thoroughly with your hands. Cover tightly and chill overnight. Sterilize the jam jars and lids.
3. Transfer the peaches to a large pot, preferably a copper jam pan. Over medium heat, heat the stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil and cook, stirring often, skimming any froth that rises to the surface. Cooking time will depend very much on the juice content of the peaches. Boil to 220F/105C, or until the jam forms a double drip from the spoon; the jams should set if you drop a little on a chilled plate.
4. Let the jam cool 1-2 minutes, then ladle it into the jars and seal them. When sealed, jam can be kept up to 6 months.