It’s been a busy week. Lots happening. Life. But when the peach trees are ready, like time and tide, they wait for no one.
Then we gave away bunches of rosy white peaches to grateful friends, one of whom set to work making the most wonderful jam. (Thank you, Sue!) The heavenly taste of summer jam spread on freshly baked brioche or a toasted English muffin — we decided we wanted more! To paraphrase Mae West, too much of a good thing is wonderful. So when our friend Laurie graciously offered to share her apricot crop, we were happy to accept.
We peeled the fruit, removed the pits, and began turning it all into magic.
(adapted from Saving the Season by Kevin West)
Joan recently attended a “citrus” class at the Institute of Domestic Technology where Kevin taught those gathered around the table to turn oranges, peel and all, into a fabulous marmalade. Kevin is knowledgeable about all things from the garden; his book, Saving the Season, is a definitive text on home canning, pickling, and preserving, and even touches on producing liqueurs and candies. Here is an adaptation of Kevin’s classic apricot jam recipe.
3 1/2 pounds apricots
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cups sugar
Sterilized jam jars with lids (This recipe should make about 6 8-ounce jars)
Rinse the apricots, slice into quarters, and remove the pits. Toss the fruit with lemon juice, stir in the sugar, and set aside to macerate for 30 minutes or up to overnight.
Turn the fruit-sugar mixture into a wide, flat non-reactive pan and rapidly bring to a boil (ideally the pan should be large enough to hold the fruit-sugar mixture at a shallow depth of 1 to 2 inches). Cook over a high flame, stirring frequently, until sufficiently reduced 8 to 10 minutes after the boil. Apricot jam will not achieve a firm gel set, but will develop a thick, silky consistency.
Remove the pan from the heat, and continue to stir for another 2 or 3 minutes if you would like to break down the fruit for a smoother texture. Ladle the hot jam into six prepared 1/2-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch at the top. Refrigerate for three weeks or freeze up to 3 months.
Peach Jam (confiture de peche)
(adapted from Lenotre’s Ice Creams and Candies)
This recipe is derived from the famous French patissier, Gaston Lenotre. Like the apricot jam recipe above, it requires no pectin, just lots of ripe fresh fruit. Be warned: he calls for the fruit to macerate in sugar overnight, so be sure to allow enough time. We used white peaches for this but yellow or a mixture will work beautifully.
4 pounds ripe peaches
5 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 of one vanilla bean
Juice of one lemon
Sterilized jam jars with lids. (This recipe should make about 4 8-ounce jars.)
Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Then peel the peaches. To do this, carve a small “x” at the top of each peach, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the peaches, and boil for about a minute. Then, using a slotted spoon or skimmer, lift them out of the pot and place them in the cold water to stop the cooking. The skins should come off easily.
Cut the peaches into large wedges then place them into a large pan with the sugar and allow them to macerate for 12 to 24 hours (no need to refrigerate).
Drain the peaches and cook the syrup for about 15 minutes but regulate the heat and be careful since it tends to foam and splatter if cooked too fast.
Add the peaches and the vanilla bean, bring the syrup back to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes. Skim the surface of the jam if necessary, and then stir in the lemon juice.
Immediately remove the jam from the heat, fill the jars, and close quickly with a tight lid.
We like to then turn the jars upside down so any air on the bottom mixes with the jam immediately. Refrigerate or freeze when cooled.