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Peach jam cooling in garden window

 

It’s summer in Texas and that means it’s peach season.  Some call it America’s sweetest season, and why not?  Peach cobbler, peach ice cream, peach preserves— some of life’s sweetest pleasures. 

I still remember the sweet, juicy peaches from our backyard tree when I was growing up. It was a ready-made free snack for kids playing in the yard, which was what kids did in those days before they had cell phones. 

Today when I went grocery shopping, the produce area of our local Central Market was like an indoor peach orchard calling out to pick some peaches.  I did.  I’m going to make peach jam. 

If the idea of canning intimidates you (and I admit that although I have done it many times with great success, it can be a little daunting) try making freezer jam. It’s so easy!  You don’t have to process in a water bath, check lids for sealing or any of the factors than can make canning a little scary for some.  Plus, you don’t have to devote a day to canning. An hour or so and you’re done and on your way to another project— another sign of our times. 

If you are lucky enough to own a n automatic jam and jelly maker, making the sweet treat is really a snap.  You don’t even have to stir; the appliance does it for you.  That may be lazy, but I don’t care.  You still end up with the same result— homemade jam or jelly that makes your morning toast or even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich extra special.  Not to mention that a jar of jam or jelly makes a much appreciated gift of love for a friend or neighbor. 

My daughter gave me my Ball FreshTech Jam and Jelly Maker for Mother’s Day a few years back and I love it. It sits on my counter next to my Kitchen Aid Mixer, always ready. 

So let’s get started!  

Here is what you need for the reduced sugar recipe for Peach Jam: 

Ball FreshTECH Jam and Jelly Maker (these can be purchased on-line, of course.)

4 Freezer Jars (washed and dried) (on the canning aisle of your grocery store)

3 ¼ cups crushed peaches (about seven or eight medium sized peaches)

3 Tbsp. Ball RealFruit Classic Pectin (on the canning aisle of your grocery store)

2 Tbsp. bottled lemon juice

½ tsp. butter

2 cups granulated sugar 

Choose fully ripe peaches.  They are fragrant and tender-firm to the touch. Wash peel and pit.  Speaking of pits, there are three kinds associated with the peach.  Cling means the pit clings to the peach, semi-freestone means that the pit is easier to remove than from a cling peach and free-stone easily separates from the pit. 

For an easy peel, drop the peach into a pan of boiling water for about a minute.  Remove it with a slotted spoon and hold under cold running water to peel. This process is called blanching and the skin should easily slip away from the peach. Since I am only peeling a few peaches, I blanch and peel one peach at a time. 

Coarse chop peaches and then crush with a potato masher.  You are thinking why not just pulse in a food processor, aren’t you?  Don’t do it.  I tried and it doesn’t work. 

Measure the required quantity of crushed peaches and the remaining ingredients for your recipe and set aside.  This is a golden rule for preparing any recipe. 

Sprinkle the pectin evenly over bottom of the jelly and jam maker pot fitted with the stirrer.  Add crushed peaches evenly over pectin.  Pour lemon juice over peaches.  Add butter.  

Press jam and enter. 

In four minutes the appliance will sound four short beeps which mean it is time to add the sugar.  Add it gradually while the stirrer continues running. 

Cover with the glass lid and that’s it!  But stay close-by as the appliance will beep again when the jam is done. 

Following the instruction on your electric jam and jelly maker, press cancel, unplug the appliance and remove the lid. 

Remove the stirrer using a pot holder.  

Ladle the jam into clean freezer jars.  Cool on counter, then place in freezer.  Don’t freeze all of it. Keep some in the refrigerator for that peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

It’s so easy that now even the Millennials can know the joy of old-fashioned, home-made jam.

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