White Peach-Vanilla Bean Jam with Cinnamon

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“This jam tastes like PIE” I said. “It smells like a FARM STAND” my son said. Everyone else was too busy eating it to comment. 🙂

I had this recipe in my mind on our way to pick peaches. We went right for the white peach trees because they are my FAVORITE. The peaches were fabulous and ripe, practically falling off of the trees. This jam is terrific too. A great way to save the great summer flavor of a fresh peach. This recipe was adapted from the book Food in Jars via First Look Then Cook.

The first time I ever made jam it was with a friend and her family. I picked up a lot of tips to ease the process from that experience. When chopping the peaches and adding the multiple cups of sugar, I always keep track of how many cups I’ve added into the pot, one at a time. I don’t use a canner– I heat the jars in my pressure cooker (minus the lid) with the insert in place on the bottom of the pot as well as in my pasta pot with the strainer in place as well. Both inserts separate the glass jars from touching the bottom of the pot on high heat. The classic canning method is described below. I must admit that I don’t always process the jars in hot water after filling them with jam. After boiling the jars, I seal them using the “old school” method- inverting the jars for 5 minutes after filling them. After turning them right side up the seal needs to be checked carefully as the jam cools to make sure that this method has worked; the button on the lid must stay depressed. It’s been foolproof for me!

  • 10 cups of peaches, peeled and chopped (approximately 13 to 14 large peaches)
  • 6 cups of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2 packets (1 box) liquid pectin (I used Certo) (Update: PERFECT consistency using Ball  brand)
  1. Peel the peaches: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Set a bowl of ice water next to the pot. Wash the peaches well. Lightly score the bottom of each peach with an “x”. Using a bamboo strainer or slotted spoon, lower 4-5 peaches into the boiling water. Cook for 45  to 60 seconds. Remove the peaches with the strainer or slotted spoon and place into the ice water for 10 seconds. The skin should slide right off. Repeat as necessary.
  2. Remove the peach pits and coarsely chop. Place in a food processor, about 5 peaches at a time, and pulse to chop but not puree. Repeat as necessary.
  3. Fill your canning pot with water and begin to bring it to temperature. Wash your jars and rings in warm soapy water and set aside. Put your lids in a small pot of water and heat (but do not boil) in order to soften the sealing compound. (After washing, I put my jars in water, let it come to a boil, and then let them sit until ready to cool, drain, and prepare the jam.)
  4. Add peaches and sugar to a large, non-reactive pot. (Count carefully!) Stir so that the peaches begin to release their juice and mingle with the sugar. Bring to a boil and add cinnamon, seeds from the vanilla bean, vanilla bean pod, lemon zest and juice and let jam continue to cook for about fifteen minutes. If the fruit hasn’t broken down much after that time is up, use a potato masher (taking care not to burn yourself with hot jam) to break down the chunks.
  5. Remove the vanilla bean pod and then add pectin. Bring to a rolling boil for a full five minutes. (Check consistency- mine was still a little runny after 5 minutes and needed more time.)
  6. Turn off the heat under the jam and fill jars. Wipe rims and apply lids. Screw on the bands and lower into the water. Process in the hot water bath 10 minutes. When time is up, remove from water and cool on the counter. (The alternate “old school” option is to invert the jars for 5 minutes.) When the jars are cooled, check the seal by pressing on the top of the jar. If there’s no movement, the jar has sealed. Store up to one year in a cool, dark place.

Makes 6-7 pints (yield varies depending on width of pot, cooking length and juiciness of fruit).

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Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Jam

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The first time I went strawberry picking on the North Fork in Long Island, I went to a friend’s house to make jam with her family. We made simple, perfect strawberry jam. I have made this jam for years. (so unlike me!) So, this year I looked around to try something new, initially to try a pectin-free jam. While perusing recipes, I found this one from a cookbook called Food in Jars, via First Look, Then Cook. It had me at vanilla bean. 🙂 The strawberries macerate in sugar and vanilla beans for a minimum of 2-3 hours and up to a maximum of 72 hours (of course I had to do 72 hours to maximize the vanilla flavor). The result was pretty fabulous! Next year I will have to pick even more strawberries to make this and another new kind of jam! SO GOOD!

Makes 8 8-ounce jars IMG_4000

  • 12 cups of ripe, chopped strawberries
  • 2-3 vanilla beans, split and scraped (I used 2)
  • 6 cups of sugar, divided
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 4 tablespoons powdered pectin (I use Sure-Jell)
  1. Wash and prepare/sterilize jars and lids. (To be safe, I prepare 9 jars.)
  2. Wash and chop berries. Toss them with 1 cup of sugar and the vanilla beans/seeds and place in a large jar or bowl.  Allow the berries to macerate for at least 2-3 hours and up to 72 hours. IMG_3906
  3. When you’re ready to make the jam, prepare jars (this recipe makes 5 pints).  Pour macerated strawberries into a large, non-reactive pot and add the remaining cups of sugar, lemon juice and zest and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil (this jam will foam madly, beware).  Cook jam over high heat, stirring regularly for 20-25 minutes, until it takes on a thick, syrupy consistency.
  4. Remove the vanilla beans. Add the pectin and bring to a rolling boil.  Let the jam boil vigorously for an additional three to four minutes.
  5. Remove jam from the stove, and ladle into your prepared jars. (I use a canning funnel and the mess is minimal.)
  6. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings. Process in your canner for 10 minutes (You should start your timer until the water has returned to a boil- however, as long as your water is quite hot when the jars go into the canner, the time it will take to return to boiling should be minimal.) (To cheat, the jars filled with hot jam can be inverted after the lids have been placed. After 5 minutes, place them right side up. The jars are sealed when the center button in the lid pops.)
  7. When time is up, remove jars from canner and let them cool on a towel-lined counter top.
  8. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and check seals.  If any jars are not sealed, store them in the fridge and use them first.  Store sealed jars in a cool, dark place. IMG_3945

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