I was intrigued by this recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook. Not only did it call for peaches, it also included the kernels from the pits, and the leaves from the peach tree. And what exactly is a pit kernel? Well, inside each pit is a small kernel that will be chopped and infused during the cooking process to impart a wonderful almondy flavor to the jam. According to the author, Rachel Saunders, using all parts of the peach will add abundant flavor and complexity to the jam. Sounds interesting, right? When I saw these beautiful peaches at my local farmer’s market, I knew it was the perfect time to try this jam.
Use perfectly ripe fruit with good flavor. Under ripe peaches will be difficult to peel, while tasteless fruit will make mediocre jam.
End of Summer Yellow Peach Jam
recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook
6-1/2 lbs. Large ripe yellow freestone peaches, peeled
3 lbs. White cane sugar
3-1/2 oz. Strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
3-4 (12 inch) Branches with peach leaves
Peel the peaches by dropping them into simmering water for a minute or two. Drain and let them cool. Carefully peel the skins. Cut them in half, removing the pits and saving them in a dish for later use. Slice the peaches about 1/3 inch thick and place the slices into a large bowl or container.
Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir well. Cover with plastic wrap or parchment and allow to macerate in the refrigerator overnight.
Place the peach pits in a separate container and refrigerate overnight. I washed and spun dry the peach leaves, placed them in a perforated baggie and popped them into the refrigerator as well.
Next day, place 5 metal teaspoons into the freezer for testing the jam later. Remove the peaches, pits and leaves from the refrigerator. Extract the kernels from the pits by placing the pit inside a dish cloth and cracking it open with a hammer. You will need enough kernels to make 1 T. coarsely chopped. These get placed inside a tea infuser with a tight latch to keep the them from spilling out.
Transfer the peaches to a preserving pan or stainless steel kettle. Stir well to incorporate any undissolved sugar. Submerge the tea infuser and bring to a boil over high heat.
Boil, stirring for about 5 minutes.
Off heat, skim off the foam.
Mash half the fruit with a potato masher.
Cook 25 to 40 minutes until thickened, lowering the heat towards the end to prevent sticking or scorching. Test for doneness by placing a small amount of jam onto one of the teaspoons in your freezer. Return to the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes and check the consistency. If it’s too runny, continue cooking and test again. Off heat, skim off any remaining foam. When the cooking is complete, remove the tea infuser and add the peach leaves.
Allow to steep for a minute or two. Remove with tongs and discard. Pour the jam into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ of head room. Wipe the rims clean, and fasten the lids. Process by setting the jars on a baking sheet and placing them in a preheated, 250F oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cookie rack to sit overnight undisturbed. They will seal as they cool. The following day you can test them by gently feeling the top of each lid. If any of the jars did not seal, store them in the refrigerator.