One of our fruit and vegetables stores is selling baskets of the most fabulous peaches. They're exactly right for eating NOW. You know the kind. When you bite into it, you can't stop the juice from running down your chin and arms.
I was raving about the peaches to my sister and she casually mentioned that she had made peach jam last year. Here's how the conversation went:
me: [awestruck] You know how to can??And here is what happened next:
she: [casually] I took a course.
me: I've always been terrified of canning. [whistfully] I wish I knew how....
she: [casually] Do you want to make jam this weekend?
me: [jumping up and down and squealing] Are you kidding?? Yes!! How many peaches should I get? do you want to make apricot jam too? we love apricot jam! there are apricots now too. we have some jars already. how many jars do we need? what do [more non-stop incomprehensible ectatic babbling]
Sunday 25 July 2010:
On Friday, Tot and I rode our bikes through muggy thick air to the "expensive" vegetable store that always has really good fruit in the summer. (We got spectacular sour red cherries from them a couple of weeks ago.) We got a basket of incredibly fragrant peaches (no idea what kind but they had reddish skins and were so ripe they were almost bursting) and some apricots. The tiniest apricots I've ever seen but they smelled the most like apricots of all the apricots at the various nearby produce sellers. Then I got some jam jars and a packet of liquid pectin because it was the only pectin that wasn't laced with fructose and dextrose.
On Saturday (also steamy but not quite so bad - it rained Friday night), B arrived, armed with more jars, her canning utensils and her canning text book. She read the instructions out loud and made me mime some of the procedures before we dug into the basket of peaches to get started.
We pulled out a peach and then remembered we were supposed to be sterilizing the jars. We put the jars in the big stock pot and as we filled them, we realized that it really wasn't deep enough to do the processing. An emergency phone call next door to talk to a machine and racing to the other side to knock franctically on the door produced a humungously large pot. Excellent!!!
Now that we had the correct sized processing pot, we continued, back on track.
You don't want to know how much sugar we added. I don't want to know how much sugar we added! We followed the recipe in the book!!
I was stirring, stirring and watching as the bubbles were getting closer and closer to the top of our small stock pot we were using to cook the jam. (Why were we using that pot??!) But quick-thinking that we are, B took over the stirring, while I rummaged through the pot drawer to hall out the large stock pot that we WERE going to use for processing. B removed the pot of molten peaches (that were not quite bubbling over) from the burner and I put the larger pot on the burner. She made me pour the hot peach mess into the new pot. I'm pleased to report that I didn't spill any. And we were back on track.
Everything else about the procedure was brilliant though. Even though it took us three and a half hours to produce 8 little jars of peach jam.
Because we then knew more about what we were doing, it only took us an hour and a half to produce 6 little jars of apricot jam. And after licking our fingers on what was left in the pot after filling the jars, we were determined to use LESS sugar for the apricot jam. And we did. In spite of the apricots being far tarter than the peaches. I was holding the sugarbag and tried to sneak by with scantly filled cup measures. But eagle-eyed B noticed and made me add a little more.
And still the apricot jam is very sweet.
T and I officially tasted the peach jam the next morning (from the jar that was 7/8 full) on toast. Oh my!!! It's insanely sweet!!! We tried cutting the sweetness by having it with goat's cheese but the sweetness was too overpowering still. But the peach flavour still manages to come through. And it's a beautiful colour. T thinks we should use it as a topping for cheese cake. It really does seem more like a dessert item.
So, what did you do on this past Saturday when it was ridiculously hot?
For more photos of our jam making adventure, please see jam making: peaches and apricots
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