I never liked jam or anything sweet for breakfast. Therefore, when it comes to preserving, I prefer fruits in their savoury and/or spicy forms (see the previous posts on mango and plum sauces). I prepare jams, marmelades and other sweet jars for the jam-loving part of my family and friends, but I also use them to glaze roast or grilled meat, put in cakes or pies, mix into drinks… This summer’s first jams are made with peaches.
Peach is I think my favourite fruit. Since I was a child I have only hated its hairy, felt-like peel. Even now, when eating a whole raw peach, I always put it under water so that the peel becomes smooth. My favourite is the yellow flesh variety, but I am not sure if it’s because of the actual taste or simply the colour.
Just like tomatoes, peaches are very easy to peel when put for a minute or two in boiling water. It takes only around 15 minutes to peel a kilo of fruit, so easier than one might suspect. Even though my jam became orange and lost the beautiful yellow peach colour (cooked for too long probably), it has a perfect “peachy” taste and smell. Gin enhances the peach taste, gives the jam a certain je ne sais quoi and makes it more… sophisticated.
Preparation: around 1 hour+jars processing
1 kg very ripe peaches weighed without stones and peel
300g sugar (or more if peaches are not very ripe)
juice from 1 lemon
40g pectin in powder (not necessary if you like a runny jam or if you cook it long enough to be dense)
Put the peaches in boiling water for two minutes. Take them away with a slotted spoon and place immediately in cold water. After a couple of minutes the peel will come off easily with fingers.
Remove the stones and cut the fruit into small pieces (do not throw away the juice!). Weigh it.
Put the fruit, the lemon juice and a couple of tablespoons of water into a non reactive pan and cook on a rather high heat until the peaches become soft. Stir it often and watch the pan constantly (if there is not enough liquid they will burn). Add the sugar and simmer on a low heat for ten more minutes.
Add the pectin and more sugar if the jam is not sweet enough, stir it and cook for another ten minutes. Put aside.
(Here you can pour the gin and stir the jam once more before filling the jars).
Spoon hot jam into sterilised jars, cover with lids.
Leave the jars to cool.
Place the cool jars into a big pan, bottom lined with an old kitchen towel folded in two (this will prevent the jars from breaking), cover up with hot – but not boiling- water to the level just below the lid. Bring to boil and keep on a very low heat, in simmering water, for around 20 minutes.
Stick on self-adhesive labels, write the name of the jam and don’t forget to mark the date.