The availability of good peaches is starting to wane…but not completely. Summer’s not quite over yet in California. To buy fruit for canning (or anything, really), my new trick is to go to the farmer’s market around 12:30. This is the magic time when vendors start putting things on sale. I love supporting local farmers, but I also love saving a few bucks.
So this jam was my first do-it-myself batch. You may remember I wrote about a jamming class I took last month where we made a wonderful strawberry jam, but we did it in a class environment with an instructor readily available for each question on consistency, timing, and processing. This afternoon, it was just me and Oprah. But I set out confidently–in fact, I broke the first cardinal rule that Jordan Champagne told us that night in class: as a beginner, never mess with the recipe. There are important PH considerations with canning, and usually with jams you’re o.k., but you need to understand the necessary proportions of sugar to fruit before you start playing around.
But every recipe I found had equal amounts fruit to sugar, and I hate overly sweet jam. But I also hate sugar substitutes and am really attracted to jams that don’t use pectin. There’s something about the old fashioned ‘simmer and stir’ method that just feels right. So I researched numerous recipes, and decided to take down the sugar content and increase the amount of lemon juice…and voila: a chunky, delicious peach jam.
I should tell you that, in general, sugar acts largely as a preserver in jam and has a lot to do with the color. Because I used less sugar than is found in supermarket brands, the jam isn’t a brilliant shade of orange. It’s a lovely muted peach color, but if you’re going for “shock and awe” orange, this may not be the recipe for you. Otherwise, it’s a gratifying way to celebrate the waning days of summer.