Saturday, August 18, 2012

Spiced Ginger Peach Jam

Peaches are in season, and they are practically jumping into people's shopping carts. As a kid, I wasn't as crazy about them, because I had an aversion to their fuzzy skins.  As an adult, who loves to cook and bake, I've had a change of heart.

If you're thinking to yourself, "I don't like Ginger", or "I don't like to can my own jam (or that you have a fear of canning)", please give this post a chance-- keep on reading.  I'll show you how to easily peel a lot of peaches, in a very short time.  Maybe, I'll give you the confidence to learn how to can your own jam.  It's much easier than you think, and you will never buy store-bought jam again

Peaches make a perfect afternoon snack.  They satisfy my craving for something sweet.  They freeze beautifully, but canning your own peaches is fun to do.  Peaches can be transformed into delicious condiments-- as a peach salsa, or Peach Chutney. They make the most delicious pies or fruit crisps. We recently discovered that peaches are delicious as a sweet and savory Caprese salad. As a beverage, a White Peach Sangria is a perfect summer party drink.

Our newly planted Angelus Peach Tree provided us with two peaches.  I was thankful for that, since my husband planted it just a few months ago.  Next year, hopefully, we will have a tree full of homegrown peaches-- thanks to my husband's gardening skills.

A few days ago, I bought some organic California grown peaches, and I allowed them to ripen for a couple more days.  After a very busy day at work, I came with a personal mission to make peach jam-- exhausted as I was. Call me crazy, but I didn't want the peaches to over-ripen.  I made six pints of this peach jam in an hour and a half! Seriously!  So, you see, canning doesn't have to be an all day project.   Here we go!

The easiest way to remove peels from peaches (or apricots) is to bring a pot of water to a boil.  Cut an "x" on the bottom (I also do that to the top) of the fruit.  Gently add the peaches to the water for 2-3 minutes.

While the water was coming to a boil, I prepared a large bowl with lots of ice and water.  After waiting for 2 minutes, I removed the peaches into the ice water bath, to "shock" them-- basically, to stop any cooking of the peaches.  See the "x"?

I was able to easily pull the skins off, with my fingers.  I used eleven peaches, for this jam recipe, and it took about five minutes to produce naked peaches.  Easy!

TIP:  Buy freestone peaches, when possible.  When the peach is cut in half, the peaches come right out.  If you buy "cling" peaches, the peach pits will be a battle to remove.  At this point, you could cut the peaches and place them on a baking sheet. Flash freeze them, for about 1/2 hour, then put them into a freezer container.  (Why flash freeze? The peaches would clump into an ice ball, and will be easier to remove individually.)

I'm making jam, and my food processor makes the job a lot easier than hand-mashing the fruit.  I want 8 cups of fruit, which equals 11 tennis ball size peaches. I like to pulse the food processor, because I want some texture in my jam-- rather than a fruit puree. Your choice.

Traditional jam recipes use a lot of sugar.  This recipe uses (gasp) seven cups of sugar!  I can justify that by saying that I will yield six pints of jam--and I don't eat more than one tablespoon of jam at a time.  But, let's talk about options-- I've been reading a lot about Pomona Pectin.  I'm going to make it my personal mission to find this product, so that I can develop some jam recipes with a lot less sugar.  For now, this recipe is going to be the traditional way-- but feel free to adapt it to suit your own needs.  I added some lemon zest and fresh juice-- now, let's talk about ginger and spices.

This recipes uses candied ginger (and I keep some in an air-tight container) and fresh ginger.  I love ginger, and I keep ginger root in my freezer, since it doesn't keep for a long period of time in the refrigerator. Frozen ginger is easy to peel and grate.

If you don't like ginger, you can skip adding it to this recipe. I have no doubt you will still be pleased with the results.  I found this recipe on Food.com, and I made a few minor tweaks, that I will share on the printable recipe card at the end of this post.

The key to successful jam making has to do with being careful about tweaking the ratio of pectin to fruit.  From experience, I also learned that using overripe fruit will yield very soupy jam, that doesn't set properly.  I didn't photograph the process, but I have more detailed photos here, if you are interested curious. You want to give the time for the fruit, sugar and pectin to boil enough so that it thickens properly.

I bought a canning kit, a few years ago. It has all the tools that I need-- a funnel, tongs, and canning pot and rack.  This makes the process of homemade jam making more efficient. From start to finish, I timed this recipe as 1-1/2 hours to make.  This made 6 and 1/2 pints of jam.  Not bad!


TASTING NOTES:  Texture: The jam set very well, though at room temperature it can be a little thinner than most of my jams.  I might increase the pectin a bit more.  Flavor:  The jam has a beautiful brownish-orange color, because of the spices. You can taste the ginger, which is not overpowering but complimentary to the peaches.  The spices definitely compete with the flavor of the peaches-- so I will definitely leave out the cloves next time-- not that I don't like clove!  I'd just like to let the fruit be the top-heading star of this jam.  I wish I had thought to add some vanilla or vanilla bean seeds-- and I will, next time! Rating: What I like about this jam is that it isn't a straight-forward peach jam. Peach jam isn't my #1 favorite, on toast; Apricot-Pineapple still holds that spot.  Peaches with ginger is quickly moving up my favorite scale.  I think this jam will be delicious in a pan sauce, over vanilla ice cream, or as a base for a tart.  Winner!

If you have a fear of making jam, I encourage you to try it.  The days of having to melt wax are long gone.  Today, you can by self-sealing jars for reasonable prices.  Homemade jam makes fantastic hostess  or Christmas gifts.  Who wouldn't love to be handed a jar of homemade jam?  I'm hooked, and I have more flavors up my sleeve.

Preserving summer is what it's all about. Enjoy what's left of summer-- Fall is fast approaching, but fortunately we don't feel the weather changes until closer to October. I love my hometown of California!





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14 comments:

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

Sounds like a great jam! I always have ginger in the freezer but rarely reach for it... gotta correct that:@)

erica said...

What a fabulous recipe. I will definitely have to give it a try! Thanks so much for sharing. xo

Introverted Art said...

this looks so good. I love ginger and peaches. Never thought of combining them though.

Leah @ foodforthefresh said...

What a perfect combination! My mouth is watering!!

Anonymous said...

I never thought of this idea honestly, thanks for sharing it!

Kitchen Makeovers || Melbourne Kitchen Renovatoins

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Love the idea of the ginger in this. You have certainly gotten down the technique of peeling peaches the easy way. Think how long it would take to do it with a knife...
Sam

Wave Watcher said...

Hi Debbie,
Both Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma carry Pomona. I bought jars to make peach jam a few weeks ago, but have not been able to get to farmer's market to buy peaches. Glad that I haven't because now I can try this recipe.

Joanne said...

I've always loved peaches more for baking and nectarines more for snacking (due to this fuzzy skin business). So peaches in jam sound just right to me! I love that you added ginger into the mix too!

Real Food Runner said...

Yum!

http://therealfoodrunner.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

HI Debbie,

the recipe card for your spiced peach ginger jam has disappeared, I was all ready to make it! Can you check to see if it is something you can fix on your end?

Thanks!

Debby Foodiewife said...

I just checked and it's there! IF you look at the top right column, on my blog page, I have in BIG RED LETTERS why you might not see the recipe. If you are using an old version of Windows Explorer, you can't view them. Email me at foodiewife@gmail.com if you still can't find the recipe and I'll send you the link. Sorry about that.

Beth said...

Have 5 pints cooling as I type this. I love the combination of peach and ginger and was looking for a way to use up the peaches from my tree. Thank you for a wonderful recipe!

Debby Foodiewife said...

Thanks for the feedback, Beth! I hope you enjoy the jam.

Anonymous said...

I've found that 1 minute in the boiling water bath is sufficient followed by a cold water bath. I don't even use ice and haven't had a problem. Longer than 1 minute gives a sort of ring inside the peach indicating it's partially cooked. Canned sliced peaches today with ginger, cinnamon, and a little bit of brown sugar as well as the white sugar. Turned out great.