Admit it. When you think of canning what comes to mind? That suspicious looking jar of chow chow your Aunt Edna gave you three years ago that you haven’t had the courage to open?
I confess I was one of those people who thought canning was so, well, old school. You would think as someone who loves to cook I would have discovered the joys of this art sooner but it wasn’t until last year that a chance program on the Cooking Channel ignited my interest in canning.
I’ve been obsessed ever since and now twice a year, I get together with D2’s godmother and a few friends to can summer and fall fruit. This year we made peach, peach bourbon and strawberry-lemon marmelade jam along with maple Vidalia onion conserve. To say they are delicious is an understatement. There is nothing like getting the best fruit(or veggies) from your local farmer’s market and turning it into lovely jam you made yourself.
In this day and age of processed food and expendable knick knacks, a jar of homemade jam makes a perfect gift.
While canning can certainly be done solo, it’s so much more fun with a group of friends. This past June we canned over 50 jars. It’s now apple and pear season so we are now gearing up for our fall session. The cookbook I use is the Better Homes and Garden cookbook on canning. It has dozens of recipes along with everything you need to know about safely canning fruits and vegetables.
This peach bourbon jam recipe has been such big hit with my friends and family I can’t keep it on my pantry shelf. If you are not a fan of bourbon, simply leave it out. Try this recipe out for yourself and let me know what you think.
Prep: 30 minutes Process: 5 minutes
7 cups of sugar
4 cups of finally chopped, peeled ripe peaches (about three pounds fresh)
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup of bourbon
1/2 of a 6-oz package (1 foil pouch) liquid fruit pectin
In a 6-8 quart heavy pot, combine sugar, peaches, lemon juice and bourbon. Bring to boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Quickly stir in pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon.
Ladle hot jam into, sterilized jars half-pint canning jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids.
Process filled jars in boiling water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from pot; cool on wire racks. To distribute fruit, cool for about 20 minutes, then gently turn and tilt jars without inverting them. Repeat as needed. Makes about 7 half pints.
Cook’s Notes: 1) Like baking, canning is a very precise process. It’s critical to follow the directions exactly as written and not deviate to ensure you are preserving your fruit safely and preventing harmful bacteria from forming. 2) Can only what’s in season and buy from your local farmer’s market where fruit and veggies are far more superior to conventionally grown grocery store produce. 3) Be patient! Your jam should rest for at least three weeks before eating but waiting two months or more is even better. It gives the flavors more time to meld. 4) Enjoy on pancakes, steel cut oats, Greek yogurt or fresh bread.
Give canning a go and I promise you’ll never buy a jar of store bought jam again. It’s that good. Enjoy!