Thursday, July 9, 2009

Peach Jam

I often joke to people that there's a little old 80 year old woman trapped inside my body. Normally, people laugh this comment off until I point out my tendency to nod off around 9:00 PM, or my fondness for sensible shoes, or the fact that it's not uncommon to hear me utter the phrase "what is wrong with kids today?" (seriously, can you tell me?)

So, I channeled my inner-grandma - and made my own homemade jam. It's not that I think non-octogenarians don't or wouldn't enjoy making jams, jellies or preserves, it's just that this in particular reminds me of my own grandmother so much, because she made the best homemade jam in the world.

My grandma, when she wasn't chasing my grandpa around the kitchen with a frying pan (true story), was the textbook definition of the ideal grandmother, always doling out big smooshy hugs or homemade treats at every possible turn. She was a phenomenal cook in that cozy, old-fashioned way that is sadly absent from today's ho-hum, fast-food, pre-packaged society.

Some of my favorite food memories involve venturing down the treacherous stairs to my grandparents' cave of a basement, wading through the piles of yellowing newspapers and old cola bottles, to pick out a can of homemade jam from amongst the selection of fruits, vegetables and meats that were arranged in neat rows on the dusty shelves. Those were the good ol' days.

Whereas the grandmothers of the world would have cooked a huge batch of this jam and preserved it in sealed jars to store in the pantry, I knew this wouldn't last long here because we use jam a lot -- on toast, in sandwiches, mixed in plain yogurt, on top of veggie burgers, straight from the jar (don't judge). I also lack good canning jars and that wondrous, mythical creature called a pantry. 

Please feel free to post comments down yonder, in that area conveniently labeled, you know, comments -- especially if you have any questions about this or any other recipe, if you want to share your favorite food memory, or if you simply want to brag to me about all of your available storage space.

Peach Jam
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food 

This recipe is for a simple jam made without pectin, so it won't gel quite like one purchased at a store; I spoon it from the jar instead of using a knife.  Cooking down mashed pieces of fruit with some sugar and a little lemon juice produces one of the most sublime things you can spread on a piece of homemade bread. It is, literally, summer in a jar.

2 lbs peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2" chunks (see note below)
1/4 cup water
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1) Combine peach chunks with water in large saucepan; bring to a simmer. With a potato masher, mash into a coarse puree. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring often.

2) Stir in sugar until dissolved. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer approximately 15 minutes, stirring often. You can test doneness by spooning some jam onto a plate; when you run your finger through it a trail should remain for a few seconds. 

3) Skim foam from the surface and stir in 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice. Let cool and pour into glass jars. Store in refrigerator.

How to peel peaches:
1. Blanch
Bring a large pot of water to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Add peaches and simmer for 1 minute.

2. Shock
Using a slotted spoon, transfer peaches to a large bowl of ice water; let soak until the skin begins to wrinkle, about 5 minutes.

3. Peel
With your fingers, gently rub off the skin. 


  1. Lisa, this is your neighbor's cousin speaking. All the way from Maine, where Ryan and Jennica are celebrating Ryan's birthday on the beach, with family (while I'm at work - grudge grudge). Your post paralleled my own 'grandma's kitchen' experience so much. She also made the most wonderful jams and jellies, preserves and relishes. She jarred them and dated them, making many at a time and sending boxes of them to each of her children and their famiies. And those she didn't send, or use herself, she place on the dusty basement shelves, just as you said. And when visiting, I'd go down there, into the cool, dark basement and pull my favorite flavor of the day - often to top ice cream for dessert. It truly was the best.

  2. Just found your blog, so cute! We would totally be friends, I have a mini grandma inside me as well! Great blog, looking forward to following!