August: Peach and tomato season!

Chica gave me 8 quarts of peaches from Battleview Orchards (yay!) so I had to make jam. I also saved about 2 quarts of them to eat fresh and later on I’ll make a peach crisp, or peach bellinis, mmmm…..

peachjamsummer13

Anyway, this time I used more sugar because giant batches of peach jam don’t work out for me (they don’t set well) unless I use more sugar. This recipe made 8 pints of jam (which I put into various size jars).

13 cups of peeled, chopped peaches (about 6 quarts before cutting up)

10 cups sugar (I know, too much, but it’s still less than the Ball Canning book calls for!)

1 packet liquid pectin (probably could have used a box of the low sugar pectin instead and a little less sugar?)

Peach jam is a labor of love. Lots of labor in fact, but worth it!

First: Prep the peaches. Cut a cross in the bottom of each whole peach. Boil whole peaches in a big pot of water for 30 seconds and then drop them into ice water, then peel them and chop.

I then mashed them with a potato masher. Toss them Into a dutch oven (at least 7.25 quarts, that’s the size of mine), and cook down over medium heat.

About 30 minutes into it I realized that with such a large batch it would be better for the peach pieces to be smaller and broken down better to allow for more uniform cooking, so I took out the handy dandy immersion blender (best invention ever) and blended them while they cooked, leaving some larger chunks for fun.

Total cooking time was about 2 hours. You have to cook it until it’s at what seems like a slow-motion rolling boil and looks like lava- large, slow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory candy-like bubbles. Then add the pectin and bring back to a lava-like rolling boil. Once you’re done and ready to fill the jars it may look runny on the spoon when hot but it’s ok.

I boiled the jars and lids and rings while I was cooking the jam (nice and sanitized). Then fill the clean jars (made 8 pints of jam, which I put into various size jars, quarter pints, half-pints, and full pints) and then process them for 10 minutes. After that I let them sit on the table until they cool (you’ll spend the evening listening to the lids pop and ping when the vacuum seal sets), and then I keep them in the fridge to set up and thicken further.

So delicious! We finished a half-pint that I had put in an old commercial jelly jar that I reuse… that’s the one I keep for the jam we’re going to eat in the next day or two.

We also have a ton of tomatoes (as you can see in the photo) that Chris and I have harvested. It’s amazing how much fruit you can get from only 4 tomato plants! The photo has only a few. The table was covered in them before we gave some away to Dad, Mom, Chica, and the nerds.

We grew grape tomatoes (and already harvested about 5 quarts of them but they have tough skin), tasti-lee hybrids (a prolofic medium round tomato, dense but decent), tye-dye yellow-red tomatoes (which are cute but not as tasty or prolific), and black krim, which are my favorite! They are ugly and purplish green, and they are delicious! Heirlooms are always the best. Next year I’m only going to grow ugly heirlooms, especially since I’ve found out that the popular seed companies that I used to use are evil and supporting the big “M”. Next year I’ll buy my plants from organic farms and nurseries in NJ!