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Spicy Peach Preserves

peach pulp with spices

It feels bittersweet to write these words, but I do believe that this will be my last fresh peach recipe for this year. I’ve peeled, cooked, and processed about 25 pounds this season and I feel utterly done with them. However, if you’ve still got some peach energy, this sweet, spicy, tangy preserve might be a fun one for you.

spicy peach preserves close

To build this recipe, I took the bones of my beloved tomato jam and made just a few small tweaks. I reduced the amount of sugar, added a little salt for balance, and reduced the cooking time (because peaches don’t contain as much water as tomatoes do).

spicy peach preserves

The finished jam has a nice sweet and savory balance, and would be really great to use as a glaze for baked chicken or as a dipping sauce for roasted vegetables. I’m sure that when the days get a little cooler, I’ll stir some together with apple cider vinegar and use it as a tasty braising medium for chicken thighs.

If you make it, let me know what you think, since this one is more of an experiment that most of the recipes I post here.

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Vanilla Yellow Plum Jam

three pounds yellow plums

The summer is waning and I have a massive backlog of recipes that are rapidly becoming moot as produce moves out of season. My plan for the next couple weeks is to keep my posts relatively simple and just get as many of these new preserves up here as I can before they are no longer timely.

macerated yellow plums

This yellow plum jam variation is one I’ve made three times over the years and yet it hasn’t wound up on the blog or in any of my books. I find that yellow plums aren’t always easy to find, and so when I do stumble across them, I like to pick up a few pounds and make this jam.

four half pints yellow plum jam

This year, I came across yellow plums at my Saturday farmers market, where one of my favorite farmers had no more than a dozen pints, at just a buck a pint. So ripe that they barely made it back to my kitchen intact, I prepped them by squeezing them into pulp over a large measuring cup.

yellow plum labels

Because the plums were so sweet and ripe, I tempered them with a goodly amount of lemon juice to keep them from being cloying. If your plums are quite tart, back off on the lemon juice or skip it entirely (remember, when a recipe calls for fresh lemon juice, that’s your signal that it’s there for flavor balance, not safety. It’s only when a recipe indicates that you need to use bottled lemon juice that you should stick exactly to the amount of lemon juice called for).

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CSA Cooking: Smoky, Spicy, Skillet Tomato Jam

half pint tomato jam

Skillet jams really are the best way I know to deal with a couple pounds of rapidly ripening fruit. Today’s batch was a slimmed down, extra spicy and smoky version of my classic tomato jam.

I had just two pounds of mismatched tomatoes from last week’s Philly Foodworks share and with a vacation looming, I’ve been trying to make useful things out of everything that could possibly go bad around here.

2 pounds macerated tomatoes

I chopped up the tomatoes, combined them with 1 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, and let them macerate over night (I do so love breaking up the work of even the smallest batches of preserves into easily manageable pieces).

skillet tomato jam

Then today, I poured the juicy sugared tomatoes into my trust 12 inch skillet and added 4 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes, 1 generous teaspoon of smoked paprika, another teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne.

tomato jam in a measuring cup

The tomatoes cooked down over hight heat for just around 20 minutes, until it was glossy, thick, and didn’t look at all watery. Into a trio of half pint jars and processed for 15 minutes, this little batch took less than an hour total of active time.

three half pints tomato jam

Like all tomato jams, this one is good with cheese and crackers, slathered on a burger, eaten with sweet potato fries, or dolloped alongside scrambled eggs.

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Spiced Nectarine Jam

nectarines in a bowl

Earlier in the summer, the folks from the Washington State Fruit Commission sent me a glorious box of sweet cherries as part of their canbassador program. In the past, I’ve only gotten a single shipment from them and so I thought that was it for this summer. However, a few weeks ago, they got in touch saying I should expect a shipment of peaches and nectarines.

The box arrived last Tuesday and immediately filled the apartment with the fragrance of ripening summer stonefruit. So far, I’ve made a spicy peach dipping sauce (think homemade¬†ketchup, made with peaches instead of tomatoes), a small batch of oven roasted fruit, and a batch of this spiced nectarine jam.

I’ll tell you more about the other two tomorrow and Thursday, but since I happen to be teaching this particular recipe tonight, it seemed only right to share it today.

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Sweet Cherry and Yellow Peach Preserves

finished cherry peach preserves

A couple of weeks ago, just before I left on my trip to Portland, I hit a familiar preserving wall (I bash into it at least once a summer. And sometimes more than once). I had a fridge full of fresh produce, stonefruit ripening on the counter, and I had just a day and a half before I was leaving town.

peeling peaches

There was no time for careful preserving, with long maceration times. I needed to prep as quickly as possible and fling everything into the pot. I peeled the three pounds of peaches that my friend Audra had given me from her tree by cutting them into halves and quarters, lining them up in a baking dish and pouring boiling water over them.

cherries in a pot

I pitted the cherries (these were from my July Philly Foodworks share) by heaping them into a pan, adding a tiny bit water, and simmering them for 10 minutes. Once they were cool enough to handle, I plunged my hands into the warm fruit and pinched the pits out. My fingernails were stained for days, but the cherries took less than 8 minutes of active work.

simmered cherries

I combined the peaches, the pitted cherries, and any juice left in the cherry pan in a large measuring cup to see how much I had and found that I had exactly 8 cups of fruit. I poured the fruit in my beloved maslin pan and spent a moment thinking about sugar.

peaches and cherries in measuring cup

As you may have noticed, I’ve been making lower and lower sugar preserves, mostly because I want to be able to eat what I make and I don’t always want to be eating fruit with an equal measure of sugar. I’ll often use Pomona’s Pectin in order to get a good set with minimal sugar, but this time, I just didn’t feel like bothering with pectin at all. Instead, I decided to add 2 1/2 cups of sugar, boil the heck out of it, and be happy with whatever set it ended up with.

prepped cherries and peaches

After about 40 minutes of vigorous cooking, I ended up with 6 half pints of deep red preserves. It has a very soft set, but isn’t so loose that it can’t wear the catch-all preserves handle. It’ll be a good one for eating with yogurt, cottage cheese, or oatmeal come fall and winter, and I wouldn’t be at all ashamed to tuck a jar or two into gift baskets.

cherry peach preserves two jars

Note: Because the peaches I used in this preserve were a tiny bit tangy, I didn’t use any lemon juice in this preserve. However, if your peaches are quite sweet, a drop or two wouldn’t go amiss. Additionally, you could easily spice this one up with a touch of ginger or cinnamon.

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Small Batch Peach Jam for Live Online Class

cut peaches in a bowl

Tomorrow night at 8 pm eastern time, I’ll be teaching my third live online class of the summer. For this one, I’ll make a small batch of peach jam and talk about how to preserve summer stonefruit without making yourself crazy. During the first class, a participant suggested that I make demonstration recipes available ahead of time, so that if you so desired, you could can along with me. So that’s what I’m doing!

This is the recipe I’ll be making on Monday night. You’ll want to have your canning pot prepped, your peaches peeled and chopped, and your sugar measured out. The rest we’ll do together.

And just to be clear, you don’t HAVE to can along with me to take the class. However, I do love the idea of all of us making the same thing at the same time.

When: Monday, July 13 at 8 pm Eastern Time
Where: Your living room, kitchen or office, via Concert Window
Cost: Pay what you wish

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