The Locavore Next Door: From Market to Table - Vanilla Spiced Peach Jam

By Carrie Robinson on September 15, 2012 from The Locavore Next Door via

I bought a bag of gorgeous peaches for just $5 at the farmers market the other day.  I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with them when I handed the lady at the market my $5 bill.  I just knew that they looked and smelled delicious, and that I had to have them.  Maybe my family and I would just snack on them throughout the week.  Maybe I would make a peach cobbler.  But then I thought, wait!  I have been wanting to try to make my very own jam.  Why can't peach jam be my first jamming adventure?
I did quite a bit of research online trying to find what seemed like the perfect recipe for my first attempt in peach jam making.  After finding a few that appealed to me, I decided to take a little from this one, and a little from that one and make my own version.  I know that is typically a big no-no in the first time jam making world, but I rarely follow the culinary rules (what fun is that anyways? ). I figured if it flopped I would go ahead and use what I had made to concoct some kind of peach cobbler or crumble.  And well, if it was successful then I would share it with all of my readers.  (Lucky you all!)
What you will need:
6 large peaches- peeled, pitted, and chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup of sugar
1-2 cinnamon sticks (you could also just add 2 tsp of ground cinnamon)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
Canning supplies- stock pot, processing basket, 8-10 4 oz glass jelly jars and lids, tongs, etc
The first thing you need to do is get those peaches jam ready.  The easiest way I have found to peel the peaches is to do just about the same thing I do with tomatoes when I need them unpeeled quickly.  With a paring knife, cut an X into the bottom of each peach.  Then dump the peaches into a large pot of boiling water for about 1 minute.  Immediately drop the peaches into a sink of cold water with ice cubes.  Once they are cool enough to handle, the skins should just slip right off. Then you can cut each peach it half, pit them, and chop them.
Once your peaches are chopped and ready to go, dump them in a dutch oven or large pot.  Add in the lemon juice, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon stick(s), and cardamom and mix together.  Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil.  Then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.  At this point, take a potato masher and mash some of the peaches until your jam is your desired texture.  I like mine with slightly more chunk.  When you are done mashing, simmer the jam for another 10-15 minutes until it is thickened up.  
Remove the cinnamon stick.
Now you need those warm jam jars.  I boiled my jars and lids in a large stock pot and took them out of the water right before I was ready to fill them with my peach jam.  But you could also try the dishwasher trick I have been hearing about- run your jars and lids through the dishwasher as you are making your jam and keep them in there until you are ready to fill them.  The jars stay nice and warm- no boiling required! I know I am definitely trying that the next time that I do can.
Using your nifty funnel, fill each of your jars to about a half inch from the rim.  You need to allow a little space in the top of each jar for any expansion that may take place turning the actual processing of the jars.  Remove all air bubbles from the jars by poking and stirring around a non-metallic utensil into each filled jar.  
*Photo #3 here.
Now place a lid and band on each jar.  Do not tighten the bands all the way.  Place in a stock pot of simmering water, making sure the jars are covered with about an inch of water.  Place the lid on your pot and boil for about 15 minutes.  Turn off the heat and allow the jars to sit in the lidded pot for 5 minutes.  Then take them out and let them sit up on a cooling rack for at least 12 hours.  As you remove the jars from the pot, you should hear a little ping sound.  This means that your jars' lids have set and should preserve well on your cupboard shelf or in your pantry.  Those little ping sounds are pretty gratifying.  You know that you are doing something right.
Once cooled, be sure to label each jar and include the date.   This recipe makes about 10 4 oz jars.

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