After a late frost and a couple of heavy hail storms, it looked like stone fruits weren’t going to happen this year. I get as excited about peaches and apricots in summer as I used to as an eight-year-old on Christmas Eve, so I was feeling very heavy hearted when the farmers saw the blossoms on their trees falling.
What may have been considered a Christmas miracle, a bit early perhaps, happened when stone fruit actually began to appear in the local farmers markets, and when Chaffin Orchards offered a deal on a lug of peaches, I jumped at the chance. I couldn’t suppress my eagerness, actually, and purchased two lugs, basically 45 pounds of peaches!
That many beautiful, heirloom orbs of sweetness meant that I needed to do some heavy canning this weekend. I love to preserve food. There’s something almost supernatural about preparing food, putting it in jars, and making it become shelf stable with a thing as mundane as boiling water. Hearing jars seal makes me feel like I’m magic.
My favorite creation of the weekend was Peach Vanilla Bean Jam. It was an interpretation of a recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation and another from smells-like-home.com. I’ll include the recipe for my jam as well as including the measurements for a smaller batch.
Peach Vanilla Bean Jam
Makes 18 pints (or 4+ pints)
15 pounds peaches, blanched, skinned, and pitted (3 pounds)
1 ¼ cups lemon juice (1/4 cup)
2 packages Pomona’s Universal Pectin (1/2 package)
6 vanilla beans, cut open (1-2 beans)
20 cups evaporated cane sugar (4 cups)
Sterilize jars in boiling water, 10 minutes for sea level. Add a minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level. For instance, we live at 3600 Ft., so I sterilized the jars for 14 minutes.
Place peaches in a food processor and mix until peaches are crushed or crush by hand. Put crushed peaches in a very large pot, add lemon juice and pectin, and stir well. Place on high heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a full boil. Add vanilla pods. Add sugar and heat again to a full boil, stirring constantly. Cook for one minute more, remove from heat, skim if needed, remove vanilla pods, and spoon jam into hot jars using a ladle and wide mouth funnel. Leave ¼ inch of headspace.
Screw on both pieces of the lid and process in a boiling water canner. Process for 5 minutes at sea level to 1,000 Ft., 10 minutes for 1,001 to 6,000 Ft., and 15 minutes above 6,000 Ft.
Remove jars using a pair of canning tongs. Place jars on a towel on the counter and let sit until cool. As jam cools, the sound of the lids sealing will occur, and it sounds so cool!
This jam is the dream of anyone with a sweet tooth. It would be amazing on vanilla ice cream as well as being used on English muffins, pancakes, or anywhere else you can imagine jam hanging out. It’s also pretty awesome spooned straight from the jar.
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