Peach Blueberry Jam
By Chaya from Pantry Paratus
In typical summer fashion, my children have had sticky faces and upset tummies to testify to the abundance of a Northwest fruit harvest. Yesterday at the swimming hole, Scooter was standing on the beach eating June Berries (also called Sarvis Berries) instead of splashing with the others. After dinner, his little sister was stripped to the diaper to commence smashing Flathead cherries on her face. We have enjoyed strawberries, blueberries, peaches and huckleberries in overlapping bliss.
This peach blueberry jam recipe was to simultaneously circumvent a tummy ache today while providing fresh, local fruit to my family on a nasty winter day in January. I do this through homemade jams. I like them thick and chunky because they are not merely a splash of color for toast—they are the topping for homemade yogurt, for ice cream, and for pancakes. I have used my orange marmalade to make a quick sweet-and-sour sauce for a 15 minute dinner creation; and plum jam can stretch into a fancy complimentary sauce for anything pork.
Any great kitchen adventure must start by taking stock of the tools. The funnel, check. Tattler lids, double check. They are a must for me—they are economical, always on hand, and make any pressure canning recipe foolproof—the lids are so much heavier than the cheap Made-In-China metal lids– that the Tattlers stay in place through all of the bubbly-boiling.
Today for jam, I will water-bath can (a method that can only be used for acidic foods), but I am going to do it in my All American pressure canner anyway. I ran out of room in my kitchen for gadgets and unnecessaries a long time ago, so I think my water bath canner is out in the shed collecting dust for me, right next to the juicer/ricer/slicer/dicer. The All American pulls double duty as a water bath canner too, simply by omitting the lid.
I start by pulling out The Beginner’s Guide to Preserving Food at Home, which reminded me to boil my peaches for 30 seconds and the skins would just peel off like a Post-It ® note. I cross-referenced that recipe with the canning guidelines I find in the Pomona Pectin box, which gives me a lot of freedom to tailor the recipe within safe boundaries for ensuring the recipe is still acidic enough to be water bath processed.
As a general rule, I do not use white processed sugar. Jam and jellies are like a junior high science class…”See this tablespoon of sugar, class? That’s how much sugar you should consume a day. See this bucket? That’s in Grandma’s jelly.”
I will confess: I’m a honey addict. Pomona Pectin allows for alternative sweeteners because it is calcium-based; this means that my diabetic parents can eat it, and I can rest easy serving it to my family in alternate ways—like in the yogurt or in the stir-fry.
Just yesterday a friend said that her mom makes this to-die-for combo of peaches with blueberries. I had 8 cups of pureed peaches and only 2 of blueberries, but it was a wonderful ratio after all. I also added ¾ cup lemon juice to increase the acidity (don’t worry—there is a chart in the Pomona box to make it really easy), a cup of water for the boiling down process, and over 1 ½ cups of honey! But for a full batch of jam to last the winter, that is an insignificant amount of sweetener.
I sterilized my jars and lids already, and they stood in formation on the towel next to the stove. Next, I pureed the ingredients in the food processor, and brought the mixture to a boil so that I could add the calcium and pectin.
The peach blueberry jam started thickening even on the stove top, and I ladled it into the jars. Even though I use a funnel, I am still sometimes messy with it. I have to wipe the rims of the jars carefully to ensure the lids seal properly.
My purply-sweet jars sat on the counter all afternoon. I have been known to leave them there longer, just so that I can bask in my day’s success. Oooh, you know—I think this flavor has the makings of a wonderful smoothie!
I hope that you, too, will preserve summer in a jar.