Their peach orchards are located about 10 miles south of where we live. Each year they open the orchards to the public and people can pick their own peaches for a small fee. This year we went in with a friend who picked a 5-gallon bucket of peaches. We paid her for half of them.
Peaches are my favorite fruit and we planted 2 peach trees last year. But it will be several years before they produce very many peaches. So, until then I will have to buy them.
So, what to do with all these peaches! Well, I ate a good many of them, but that hardly made a dent in them. It has been several years since I canned anything, but I decided it was a good time to dig out my canner and can some peach jam. And what follows is a pictorial account of my jam project.
First, buy new jars or look around kitchen cupboards and in the basement to find enough jelly jars for the project. Make sure they are not cracked or chipped and wash them in hot soapy water.
Third, buy a package of fruit pectin. There are several varieties, such as Sure-Jell and Ball. These come in powdered and liquid form. I've used both and it seems to me that the powdered kind allows you to use less sugar. Pictured below is a package of the liquid kind because that is what I had on hand.
The fruit pectin will contain directions for several kinds of jams and jellies. I like to high-light the the one I am going to make.
Fill your canner with water, enough to cover your jars with at least an inch of water, and get it started heating. You want it to be boiling before you fill your jars.
For peaches, you need a pot of boiling water, a bowl of ice water, a pair of tongs and a large bowl to receive the peeled fruit.
Drop the peaches into boiling water for about 30 to 45 seconds. Remove them with the tongs and put them in the bowl of ice water.
After they have been in the ice water for a few seconds, the peels should slip off easily. Chop them up and put them in the bowl.
For peach jam, mash the peaches with a potato masher. The directions may tell you to add lemon juice at this point. It helps to keep the peaches from turning brown.
Put the rings and lids for your jars in a pan of water and heat them on the stove. You want to boil them for just a couple of minutes before putting them on the jars.
Now, follow the directions that came in the package of fruit pectin for canning them. It will tell you how much sugar to add and when to add the fruit pectin. Usually the directions will tell you to heat the fruit to boiling after you have added the sugar and then spoon it into the clean jars.
Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel before adjusting the lids and rings on the jars. Screw the lids on tightly, but do not over tighten. As you can see, I just used what lids and rings I had on hand for this project .... some white colored, some brass colored. I'll probably save those that have matched lids and rings for Christmas gifts!
Now, place the jars in the canner rack and lower the rack into the canner full of boiling water.
After the jars have boiled for the amount of time in the directions, immediately turn off the heat and remove from the canner. Be careful not to burn yourself. I use oven mitts to remove the rack from the hot water. Set it on a cutting board covered with a kitchen towel to keep the hot jars from coming in contact with a cool kitchen counter and breaking.
After the jars have cooled a little bit, remove them from the rack and set them on another kitchen towel to cool completely.
After the jars are cool, test the lids to make sure they sealed. They will make a popping noise when they seal and the lids will be indented downward. If, when you apply pressure to the lid with your finger, it flexes, then the lid did not seal. You should store these jars in your refrigerator and eat them first. I canned two batches of peach jam and only had one jar that did not seal.
Finally, fill your dishwasher with dirty dishes and enjoy your peach jam!