Peach jam was the very first thing I ever canned, and nearly 20 years later I still love making it. I’ve yet to find peach jam in the store, and that’s part of the appeal. If I want peach jam, I’m going to have to make it myself.
Once you have the process down, it only takes about 30-45 minutes start to finish to can a batch of peach jam. Start by peeling and chopping the peaches. Though you can peel peaches with a paring knive, I generally use the boiling water method. Pop the peaches in a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes and then remove them to a cold water bath. The skins should slip easily with finger pressure.
The most time intensive part is bringing the water to a boil, but you can reuse the boiling water to can the peach jam later. It’ll have a bit of peach fuzz in it, but it doesn’t really matter. The jam is sealed in the jar and pressure is forcing air out of the jar to form a seal. The canning water never comes in contact with the actual jam. Change the water out if you want, but it’s a waste of energy.
After skinning, chop the peaches into cubes. I like chunky peach jam, so I chop the peaches into smallish hunks and just use the back of a wooden spoon to mash them slightly while they’re cooking. If you want a smoother jam, try chopping them smaller and then using a potato masher to pulverize them as they cook.
It only takes a few minutes for peaches to start releasing their juices. The picture below is after about 1 minutes on the heat, and they’re not even boiling yet. Notice they’ve already got a thick sauce in the pan, so there’s no need to add water or liquid to the jam pot.
Once the peaches start the boil, they disintegrate even further and the natural sugars in them begin to carmelize. That’s well before adding any granulated sugar. If you watch the bubbles, they move slowly over the surface, like when you’re making candy. The bubbles rising to the surface when you’re boiling peaches for peach jam looks quite a bit different than boiling water for pasta.
The picture below is at about 5 minutes of cook time when the peach jam is just beginning to boil. The color has already changed dramatically, and it looks a whole lot more like jam than fruit already.
I think peaches are sweet enough already, so I add very little sugar. This is a recipe for low sugar peach jam, but you’d follow the same procedure to make a very sweet candy like jam. Many peach jam recipes tell you to add equal parts peaches and sugar, but even as a child with a wicked sweet tooth I found that overwhelming.
My recipe uses 1 part sugar to every 4 parts peaches, and that results in a strong peach flavor and plenty of sweetness. Feel free to increase the sugar, or substitute honey if you’d like. Either will work just fine with the same directions.
I’m using Pomona’s pectin, which allows you to dramatically reduce the sugar in canning recipes, or substitute honey if that suits you. Pomona’s pectin is a citrus based pectin, that’s activated by a calcium dissolved in water which is included in the pectin package. Since it’s not sugar dependent, this same pectin could be used to make a paleo no sugar added peach jam.
This reduced sugar peach jam allows you to taste the fruit and captures the essence of summer in a jar.
- 4 cups peaches peeled and chopped
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp calcium water (included in pomona's pectin package)
- 1 cup cane sugar or honey
- 1 tsp Pomona's Pectin Powder
Add peeled and chopped peaches to a saucepan along with lemon juice and calcium water.
Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Give them a quick mash with a potato masher until they're at the desired consistency.
In a separate container, mix the sugar and Pomona's pectin powder. It's important to mix the sugar and pectin before adding them to avoid clumping. If you're using honey, mix the pectin into the honey.
Add the sugar and pectin mixture into the cooking peaches, stir well and simmer for another 2 minutes.
Ladle peach jam into prepared canning jars and water bath can for 10 minutes for half pints or 15 for pints. Or, simply store in the refrigerator.
Recipe yields about 3 half pint jars.