About a week ago, I had three peaches going mushy, a handful of soft apricots and a flat of sugar plums all competing for my attention. Knowing that I couldn’t ignore all that overly ripe fruit a day longer, I peeled and chopped the peaches and diced the apricots. The plums were promised to another project, so I couldn’t pilfer too freely. I liberated just enough to bring the volume in my measure to up to three cup mark.
This all happened just before I went to bed, so I combined the fruit with a scant two cups of sugar and poured the whole mess right up to the rim of a wide-mouth quart jar. Into the fridge it went.
The next evening, after the dinner dishes were done, I poured the prepared fruit into my small batch cooking pot and prepped three half pint jars, hoping that I’d lose that final half pint during the cooking process. I added no additional pectin, choosing instead to cook the jam up to 220 degrees and hope for the best. I added the juice and zest of one lemon towards the end of the cooking. The fruit itself was so sweet, tart and flavorful that it didn’t need an additional things in terms of spices (although a bit of vanilla or cinnamon would be lovely).
It hit 220 degrees easily and as I filled the jars, I was happy to discover that I had exactly enough for the three half-pints (I promise, this exactitude rarely happens to me). I processed them in my handy asparagus pot for ten minutes and had pinging lids very soon after that.
Less than an hour of time invested (over the course of two nights) yielded three half pints of truly tasty jam, as well as the satisfaction of rescuing good food from a certain, moldy fate.
I love it! I made my first batch of strawberry jam this week. Now i want to make everything.! I boiled mine up to 220 and it came out perfect. What jars do you rec ?? I know there are many in my grocery..but i want funky..LOL. Do they make canning jars like this?. Thanks for you time!
Thankyou for the inspiration! And that’s coming from someone who, while running out the door this a.m. sans breakfast, glanced at the peaches on the counter and feared they wouldn’t make it through the heat till my day off tomorrow]. Looks like I could def squeeze in an hour tonight after the kiddies are in bed. [And I finally found my candy thermometer; stashed behind the pot lids in the bottom cabinet–the result of either an overflowing utensil drawer or a curious 2yo!]
I’ve been stashing odds and ends of stone fruits in the freezer- with some raspberries and blackberries- to recreate last year’s mixed fruit jam. Haven’t had time to pull it out and make it- the fig-rosemary-lemon had to be made before they spoiled- but after the away pottery workshop, I’ll be putting up like a mad woman. Thanks, M, for all of your inspiration!
Thank you for your continuing discussions about small batch canning. I’ve been doing the opposite (fruit butters in my large crockpot) so far this season, but am inspired by your smaller batches. It’s something doable after work, rather than waiting for the weekend to do a full batch.
Did a small batch of pickled carrots (renters left a bag of those “baby” carrots at my sweetie’s vacation cabin). Thought of you — two pint jars only. Might not have otherwise, but looking forward to a nice small batch …
Charlotte, sometimes the small batch is just the best! And pickled carrots are just so darn good too!
Got some damson plums and made 4 pints of jam from it tonight. It’s quite delightful, and JUST what I needed to end a long day–the satisfaction of delicious stone fruit jam. Thank you!
I made some blackberry jam the other day. I used 2 cups of fruit, a scant 1/4 cup of sugar, and juice from half a lime, and cooked it a non-stick skillet until it was “jammy.” I had not intended to can it and process it – I was going to stick it in the fridge and eat it. However, when I ladled it, piping hot, into a freshly washed half pint jar and left it on the counter to cool, the jar sealed about a half hour later. Since I didn’t process it, I’m curious: is that jam “shelf stable” or should I still keep it in the fridge?
Erin, you’ve done a thing called open kettle canning. It used to be an accepted method of preserving, but it’s fallen out of favor in recent days because products preserved in that manner have a higher chance of spoilage. I would still keep that jar in the fridge, despite the good seal.
Marisa, we think alike. I did this very thing with some plums, Bing cherries and apricots going soft. I may have thrown a few blueberries in, too, and a few vanilla beans. my yield was two pints.
Erin, I’ve had that happen before and, hopefully, let it sit in the pantry. I experienced about 1/2 of the jars done that way losing their seals and spoiling within a couple of weeks. so I always stick jars in the hot water bath for 20-30 minutes just to make sure I don’t waste all my hard work 🙂
Hi Marisa, sounds delicious! A question for you: when you’re improvising like this & not following a recipe exactly, how do you know how much sugar & citrus to add? Also, do limes substitute one to one for lemons? Was hoping to make a lime-ginger peach & plum preserve but haven’t been able to find a recipe that reads my mind.
We picked those exact fruits this weekend. Might have to try some of this later in the week.
Dana, typically I use 1-3 cups less sugar than fruit and I add enough citrus to make it taste good. Not very scientific, I know. And yes, you can substitute lime for lemon.
How fun to come across your site! I’m in Philly too so I look forward to having a canning blog to follow along that has the same timeline as me.
I put up a batch of the 3 stone fruit jam this weekend with some Beechwood Orchard apricots and plums and a few Fahnestock peaches (the former from the UPenn farmer’s market; the latter from the Clark Park farmer’s market).
I do sunshine jam–4+ cups fruit, 2 cups sugar, 1 lemon cut in half in a glass batter bowl. Cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap and let sit in the sun (my greenhouse) for the day. That evening, dump the warm mixture into soup pot, boil hard for about 15 minutes and presto…it’s jam. I’ve added ginger, cinnamon, bay leaves, basil (not all at the same time) and it’s come out great!
I still do jam with the open kettle method, and I think one good way to keep the jars from spoiling is to sterilize the jars and lids before pouing in the jam. I just put the jars in a pot of water and let it come to a boil while the jam is cooking. The lids are best done by washing carefully, then dipping them one at a time into the pot of boiling water just before setting them in place (boiling them with the jars can loosen the rubber seals).
Gwen, it’s really not recommended to use the open kettle method of canning. The chances of having your jam mold are far greater.
So.. what are these comments re: “open kettle method of canning”? What alternative are people suggesting? You’ve brought your contents up to a safe temperature, put it prepared jars and processed those jars in boiling water. Sounds like the approved and current way to do it to me? Perhaps I (and the Bernardin canning people) have missed something?
Robyn, the method described in my post is not the open kettle method. I’ve described the boiling water method of canning, which is the one recommended by all reputable sources of canning information. The open kettle method is when you pour your hot jam into sterile jars, apply lids and simply let the jars seal without any sort of processing. This is not recommended because if you’re not absolutely pristine with your sterlization, you run the risk of contamination and spoilage.
Got it. Guess some of the other readers missed the phrase where you processed the jam for 10 minutes! Glad I’ve found your blog (the finecooking e-newsletter had a link). I’m really enjoying it – back issues too.
Thanks for the inspiration! I usually stick w/ the tried & true (for me!) and yesterday decided to mix the few last plums from the tree & the few last white peaches and made jam from them. Set up great!
found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later
I’ve noticed you did not add water to the fruit pot to make the jam… correct? Or am I missing something…?
You very rarely add water to jam. The whole point of making jam is to cook the existing water out of the fruit so it is counter-intuitive to add more water that you’re then going to have to cook out as well.
Yeah. That makes sense. I’m still learning about basic matter principles. Haha, Thanks so much, Marisa!
What was the project you saved the sugar plums for? I bought some today and I’m dreaming of some kind of sugar plum jam!
Sarah, I canned those sugar plums whole in a honey syrup. They were so good last winter!
Hello Marissa – in both this post and in your recipe book you do not state how much headspace?
Headspace for jam is standard. Shoot for something between 1/2 and 1/4 inch.
My mom and I made this last week and it was yummy, but only made 2 half-pints. I was curious if I could double it to get a little bit less of a really “small batch”? 🙂
You can, though it will need a little bit longer on the stove.
Thanks! Going to start some more today!
Oh no! I just made 8 half-pints of candied stone fruit….not jam. 🙁 I misread the thermometer and recipe….I wanted 220 not 250……oops
My husband just walked in the kitchen and caught me using a spatula to lick the remainder off the bottom of the pan… it’s SO good!!!!
I made this with all plums – it was delicious! As one of my first canning attempts, though, I believe I left too much headspace in some of the jars, and have noticed the discoloration toward the top of the jam mentioned on this site and others. I was curious – is that ever harmful? Or only less attractive?
That surface discoloration isn’t at all harmful or unsafe. However, I often scrape away that first layer before digging in, because I find that it often tastes a little bit flat in comparison to the rest of the jar.
Oh fantastic – thanks so much for putting my mind to rest, and with such a speedy response!
I made this beautiful jam but forgot to add the lemon juice, eek! (Heads up Marisa, this recipe in your cookbook has a misprint, no mention of when to add the lemon juice and zest). How can I salvage the batch safely? The jars were sitting on my counter for about 6 hours before I realized my mistake, and then I popped them into the fridge.
So sorry for that omission! I’ve got good news though. The lemon juice in that recipe isn’t there for safety, it’s only there for flavor. So your jam is safe, it just might have a slightly sweeter note than is desired. They can still be safely stored in the pantry.
Whew! Thanks for the speedy reply 🙂
Marisa – is peeling the peaches necessary for any safety/acidity concerns? I ask because I forgot to peel the one peach I included in my recent small batch stone fruit jam from this recipe (mostly plum/nectarine otherwise). I know the texture won’t be as good, so I’ll just plan on keeping it to myself instead of gifting it, but I was curious if I should throw it out entirely – thank you!
I recently made a batch of stone fruit jam with about 1/2-2/3 white peaches and the rest a mix of yellow peaches and plums (maybe a little nectarine and apricot). I also added a good amount of lemon juice. My questions is whether I need to worry about the low-acid white peaches; is the other fruit and lemon juice enough to bring it to a safe acidity level?
Also, how long does it take for botulism to grow? If my jam is not safe on the shelf, how long do I have to get it into the freezer?
The combination of lemon juice and higher acid fruit makes me believe that that jam is going to be perfectly safe.
My jam did not thicken ?
Then you didn’t cook it long enough.
hi. Do you peel the peaches? In your book it doesn’t say to peel them and I was wondering if this affects the pectin.
also in the book it doesn’t say when to add the lemon juice. I can’t read the recipe on your site, because it just says loading. thanks.
For this small batch mixed fruit batch, I didn’t peel the peaches. It doesn’t impact the pectin, it’s just about your preferred texture. I tend to add the lemon juice at the end, but it really doesn’t matter when you add it, as long as it gets in there at some point.