Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Homemade Peach Jam

I've been experimenting with pectin-free jam making this summer, gradually reducing the amount of sugar used each time. But I've been using different kinds of fruit as well, based on what was plentiful in the garden or store: blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and peaches. Each one has turned out differently, a little thicker, thinner, sweeter, tarter, but all much more flavorful than store bought, and they make nice hostess gifts as well.
I've also been experimenting with my camera to see if I can take better pictures. I had a friend (try) to explain a little to me...but I think it's much easier to make jam than to take pictures of it!

Anyway, I started with washing the jars in hot, soapy water, and putting the glass in the oven at 250 to sterilize. Then, I zested and juiced two lemons (but a third wouldn't have been amiss, oh well!).
 Then peeled and chopped up six pounds of peaches. It didn't actually take that long. I added two cups of sugar.
 Then, the cooking! In a heavy pot (or two), set the heat to high, so that it bubbles vigorously.
I had a candy thermometer in there, goal temp being 220 degrees. This is the first time I used a thermometer and I don't think it's really necessary. I used a potato masher to break up the fruit a little. Spreads nicer that way, but not into puree. I like chunks in my jam.
 When it looks like jam, thick and syrupy, it's jam. I love how the caramel color of the final product. Lots and lots of flavor. 

Carefully spoon in jars and seal, not too tightly. The hot jam in the hot jars will do the sealing work for you.
 Enjoy! This batch made 8 jars, so there's plenty for toast and extra to give away. I've definitely earned some cooking cred by handing out jars of homemade jam. And with about a hour and a half of effort (including clean up) it's an easy project to be accomplished during a toddler's nap. :-) The final result is a jam with a lighter, less sweet consistency with lots of soft chunks of peach. Yum.

Homemade Peach Jam
Yields: Eight 1/2 Pint Jars

6 lbs white peaches, peeled and chopped into small chunks
2 lemons, zest and juice
2 cups sugar (more or less, to taste)

Combine ingredients and put into two large heavy pots, cook on medium high, stirring often to avoid burning, until the jam reaches 220 degrees or thick and syrupy (about 25 minutes), but before it gets dry. If necessary, mash the fruit for a finer texture. Carefully spoon into clean, hot jars and seal lightly. After the jars are cool you can tighten the rings, if necessary.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Backyard Makeover: New Patio!


Blah. Grass, stones, eh.



I'm a little late in posting this, as we've had the patio in place for almost a month now. Love it. As it is summer, I mostly sit out there in the evenings and we haven't done any outdoor entertaining yet, but I have used up a tank on the grill already. Flank steak fajitas, steak, chicken breast, whole butterflied chicken, smoked (a little) chicken, burgers, squash, corn and even flat breads.

Buttermilk & Rosemary marinade on delicious, healthy chicken kebabs. This is what I made for the 4th. Tasty.