For the last four summers, I’ve been invited by the folks at the Washington State Fruit Commission and Sweet Preservation to participate in their Canbassador program. Essentially, sometime around mid-summer, they drop me an email and ask if I want to make something tasty with their fruit. When I say yes, the ship a box of delicious Washington-grown cherries, peaches, plums, or apricots.
Some years, they send me a mix of fruit. Other years, it’s just a single variety. Here’s what I’ve made for this partnership since kicking things off in 2010.
- Lazy Peach Preserves (2013)
- Honey-Sweetened Peach Chutney (2013)
- Oven-Roasted Nectarine Butter (2012)
- Luisa Weiss’s Spiced Plum Butter (2012)
- Italian Plum Jam with Star Anise (2011)
- Honey-Sweetened Apricot Lavender Butter (2011)
- Apricot-Blackberry Jam (2010)
- Pickled Sweet Cherries (2010)
This year, they sent me a giant box of sweet, juicy peaches. About half the fruit was at the apex of ripeness upon arrival. I triaged the box, sorting the peaches that had to be used immediately from the ones that could stand a couple of days in the fridge. When I was done, I had six pounds of peaches that required immediate action.
And so I peeled them, roughly chopped them, and divided them between a couple of large jars. I added some sugar to help hold them (1/2 a cup for the quart jar and 1 cup for the half gallon), gave both jars a good shake to distribute everything, and plunked them in the fridge for 2 1/2 days while I went down to Washington, D.C. to teach some classes.
When I got home from the trip, I poured the macerated peaches into a low, wide pan (in fact, the one I wrote about here). I added a tablespoon of calcium water (Pomona’s Pectin), 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, and the zest and juice from a lemon.
I brought it to a boil and cooked until the peaches where very soft and the syrup became to thicken. I whisked 1 tablespoon of Pomona’s Pectin into 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar and after about 35 minutes of cooking, stirred it into the jam. A few more minutes of simmering to help everything combined and then the jam was done.
Funneled into eight half pint jars and processed for 10 minutes, this jam is lighter on sugar than many, but doesn’t sacrifice anything in terms of flavor. It’s a nice one for holiday gifts and eating with fat slices of angel food cake.
Low Sugar Spiced Peach Jam
- 6 pounds peaches
- 3 cups sugar divided
- 1 tablespoon calcium water
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 1 tablespoon Pomona's Pectin
- Peel peaches and roughly chop them. Toss them with 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar and let the peaches macerate at least two hours and up to 72 hours.
- When you're ready to cook, combine the fruit and their juices with 1 tablespoon calcium water in a low, wide pan. Bring to a boil and cook until the fruit is tender and the syrup thickens. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon zest and juice.
- Whisk the pectin into the remaining sugar and stir into the softened fruit. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the jam starts to thicken.
- Funnel into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
- When time is up, remove jars from the canner and set them to cool on a folded kitchen towel.
- Once jars are cooled, check to ensure jars sealed. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.