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Peach jam fools everyone. You think (well, I did) it doesn’t even exist or at most belongs with those quaint outlandish preserves made by niche artisan hipsters in tiny quantities, like courgette or banana. And as there’s usually a reason for those things – nihil novi after all – it’s probably because a/ peach is not jammable or b/ the jam is simply not very nice.
Not so; it jams all right and it has a delightful flavour. Obviously similar to apricot, it has a lighter taste and it’s actually more fragrant. The fruit doesn’t instantly dissolve which could be a benefit for those who prefer their jam chunky; but it succumbs to a potato masher easily, for the smooth jam posse.
The other issue that I found frequently raised while doing my peachy research, was that you have to peel them. The cumbersome scalding, scoring and ice-bathing process, like you would do with tomatoes, was widely recommended as allegedly peach skins floating in the jam are hideous.
So I did, like a conscientious jammer that I am, set off to scald, score and all, only to find that it’s an impossible task. I don’t know – maybe those folk who posted the advice have access to some super-ripe, skin-shedding at a blink of an eye peaches but my tough specimen refused to disrobe.
Right – into the sugar they went, skins and all, and I don’t know what the ‘skin ‘em!’ believers were on about because the jam turned out flawless, the skins barely discernible and definitely less so than on apricots or plums.
Best kept secret? Well, it’s out now, and you also can enjoy it on a buttered toast in the morning.
peach jamServings: makes 2 x 1lb jarsTime: about 2 hours
- 6 peaches (600g/20oz pitted)
- 600g jam sugar
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
1. This quantity of fruit will make 2 x 1lb jars. Have them ready, washed and with well-fitting lids.
2. Wash and stone the peaches. Chop them up roughly and place in a large non-reactive pan with the sugar and lemon. Place it over very low heat for about 30 minutes until the sugar melts – that will help it set and stop the jam from being too sugary. When it’s all melted, increase the heat and bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
3. Cook for about 20 minutes. Turn the heat down while you mash the fruit pieces with a potato ricer; peach will not naturally break up. Leave it as chunky or smooth as you like.
4. Test on a clean cold plate: drop a blob of jam and let it cool completely. Pinch it between your fingers: if you’re almost able to lift a droplet, it’s ready.
Take the pan off the heat and let it stand for 15 minutes. During that time sterilise the jars in very low oven (80-100C).
5. Stir in the vanilla extract. Fill the jars to just below the rim; jam funnel is very handy to avoid major mess. Twist the lids on and let them cool completely before storing.