Thursday, September 6, 2012

Peach Raspberry Jam

5 jars of jam with big peach and raspberries
It's All About the Fruit

Recipe adapted from Sunset magazine, August 2006

Peaches and raspberries, my absolute favorite fruits. Peach melba aside, we rarely see them combined. Since both peach and raspberry seasons are winding down, now is the perfect time to preserve these fruits in a jam to enjoy all winter. As you’ll remember from August’s recipe, raspberry jam is tricky because if it’s cooked down too much, there are too many seeds and too little jellied fruit. Peaches are the perfect foil for this dilemma, adding fruity bulk without seeds and lightening the color from crimson to an agreeable bright red. And the flavor is unique and fun.

Pot filled with Peaches, Raspberries, Raw Sugar and Shot of Lemon
Simple, Beautiful Ingredient
The recipe from which I adapted this was a quick jam with lavender. I’ve still got some strawberry-lavender jam from last year, so eliminated that ingredient (plus my husband says lavender makes him feel weak!) Quick jams don’t require a hot water bath and sealing in canning jars, but you’ll need to eat the entire batch within a month. I doubled the quantity and canned it in the usual way, so we could keep it for winter. I also increased the fruit a bit.  Next time I might cut down the sugar (for which I’ve substituted evaporated cane juice), though it is quite delicious as is. You could choose to make Sunset’s original recipe if you prefer.
Stirring it up Before Heating
Note that I weighed the peaches after cutting them in half and removing the pits. In this particular batch, I added some extra raspberries—about 8 oz. total—because I had them on hand and wanted to use them up. Feel free to make this addition to the recipe, but be aware that it adds more seeds to the final product.

This jam is a top pick for an unusual holiday gift, especially paired with Low Sugar Strawberry Pineapple Jam.

Jar of Jam in a Basket
Unique Holiday Gift
Peach Raspberry Jam
Makes ~ 6 half-pint jars

2 lbs. peaches, weighed with pits removed
6 oz. (2 half-pints) red raspberries
3 cups evaporated cane juice (raw sugar)
6 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
6 half-pint canning jars, lids, and rings

Cut peaches into pieces 1 inch or smaller pieces. Weigh out 2 lbs. of peaches without pits.

Put 2 or 3 saucers into the freezer. You’ll use these later to test whether the jam has gelled.

Wash jars in hot soapy water and boil for 15 minutes in a pot of water that covers jars by 2 inches. Remove jars from water bath with jar lifter. Drain upside down on kitchen towel located where you’ll be filling the jars with jam. Don’t pour out the hot water bath, you’ll use the same pot of hot water to process the jars of jam.

Stir together peaches, raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice in an 8 quart deep stainless steel or enamel pot until well combined and liquid-y. You may use a somewhat smaller pot for this jam, but depth helps prevent splatters. Bring fruit to boil over medium high heat, stirring very frequently.

Put clean unused jar lids into a small bowl and add some of the boiled water from the hot water bath. Leave the lids in the water until you need them. It’s easiest to use a (jam making specific) magnetic lid lifter to get them out of the water.

Boil the mixture on high heat, stirring constantly. Wearing an apron and oven mits helps prevent burns. A little foam will appear around the edges of the pot. If peach chunks seem too big, mash slightly with potato masher. Continue stirring till foam is gone and jam is glossy, about 15 minutes. Start testing the jam for gel point. If jam fails the gel point test (below,) boil and stir two more minutes, then test again. Repeat as necessary till gel point is reached.

Pot of Jam almost Gelled
Nearing the Gel Point
To test for gel point: Remove a saucer from the freezer. Remove the jam from heat while testing it. Put a little blob of fruit on the chilled saucer and put it back into the freezer for just a minute or two, until it cools. Then tilt the plate and watch how the jam runs. At the gel point it all comes down the plate in a unified blob, rather than small runny drips. The gel point will be reached after approximately 15 minutes of boiling, but bear in mind that this can vary depending upon the amount of air and moisture in the fruits. Don’t overcook it!

When gel point is reached: Fill first jar to within ¼ inch of top, using a wide mouth jam funnel and measuring cup or ladle to scoop up the jam from the pot. Wipe the top of the jar and threads with a damp paper towel. Fish a lid from the hot water with a lid lifter and shake off water. Place on top of jar. Screw a ring onto jar loosely, barely finger-tight. Avoid over-tightening as air must escape during hot water processing in order to seal the jar.

Repeat this process with all jars until all jam is used. A heat-proof spoonula is a good tool for scraping out the bottom of the pot. You don’t want to waste any delicious jam! If the last jar is only partially filled, don’t hot water process that one. Store it in the fridge and eat it within a month.

Water Bath with Digital Thermometer Readout at 210 degrees
Cheap Meat Thermometer Monitors Water Temp
To hot water process: Remove some water from the large pot in which you sterilized the jars, approximately the total volume of the jars (so water bath won’t overflow). Reheat water to full boil. Remove from heat and use jar lifter to place each jar into hot water bath. Check water temperature (a digital  thermometer is the best tool for this, and inexpensive). You will need to process at 210 degrees F. Be sure that jars are covered with 2 inches of water.

Put heat under pot again and bring water temperature to 210 degrees F. Try to keep water under 212 degrees, so jam won’t boil up. Process for 10 minutes, keeping temperature constant by adjusting heat and/or position of pot on stove. Remove pot from heat.

Use jar lifter to remove jars from hot water bath. Set each jar on kitchen towel. Don’t set directly on any cool or fragile surface. As soon as jars are cool enough to handle, tighten rings. I recently discovered an inexpensive ring tightening gizmo that makes this a cooler (literally) job.

Cool for several hours or overnight. Lids must “snap” down to seal. If after cooling you can depress the center of the lid, it is not sealed. You can either refrigerate that jar and eat it within a month or remove the ring and lid, wipe the jar top and threads with a damp paper towel, and reprocess.

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