Monday, September 3, 2012

We're Jammin'

One of the cruel twists of mother nature is  making fresh fruit plentiful and cheap when the weather is the hottest and jam making must occur!  However, for the past few years summer jam and pickle making have become a part of my summer vacation.  We head up north to spend time with my BF and her family, the men go fishing for a few days while Al and I concoct jam recipes, process fruit, and bond.  We recruit her daughter Evalyn to help and we always learn something new about one another (this year it was a classic, but some things must be kept private).  It is my favorite part of summer and I wouldn't trade it for anything, not even a trip to somewhere tropical.
Besties since college!  
The jammin' crew!

Al and I tend to be a little free handed with our jam making.  We toss around ideas and just go for it.  Sometimes it turns out and sometimes we make sauce instead of jam :)  We try to organize ourselves and make plans, but we inevitably have to make 10 trips to the grocery store, 5 trips to the hardware store for jars, and occasionally end up  on a never ending search for flowering dill (we never did find any this year).  In the past we have made Bite Me Blueberry Plum Jam , which involves homegrown plums, jalapenos, and cherries. Twisted Blueberry Plum , a new take on blueberry, plum jam that has grapefruit in it.  Sadly this year her plum tree didn't produce much, so we hard to turn to another stone fruit, peaches!

We asked Al's husband to bring us home some peaches (he has connections) before he left on the annual fishing odyssey.  Alison and I came home to 1 large crate and 2 small crates of peaches.  A total of 168 pounds!  Al figured that he was trying to keep us out of busy and out of trouble with all of those peaches.  Twelve work hours later, we peeled, sliced, and packaged 84 lbs. of peaches.  We were sick of peaches!  Now we had to figure out what to do with them all.  First, we decided to replicate a chutney we had made a few years back, but with peaches instead of apricots.  Then we wanted to come up with something similar to our Bite Me jam, so we came up with Sassy Peach, which has jalapenos.  Finally, we made some plain old peach jam and blueberry peach sauce (stupid liquid pectin).
The bounty~

Some turned out, some didn't... we learned a LOT and were pretty frustrated at the end.  Here is the lesson I will share with you.  Use only low sugar pectin and recipes!  Liquid pectin sucks and regular jam recipes end up tasting like sugar and not fruit!

Can't wait until next summer, when we can do it again!

Kate, Al and Ev's Sassy Peach Jam

What do you do when you are given 168 pounds of peaches?  You make jam, of course!  This jam is full of fresh peach flavor and has the background notes of spicy jalapeno.  It can be served over cream cheese, pour over baked chicken or pork, and added to bbq sauce for a different twist. Make sure to use low sugar pectin, nothing else works as well!


6 cups peeled and diced peaches (slightly mush them  up with a potato masher)
3 jalapeños, diced (remove seeds if you don't want it as spicy)
4.5 cups granulated sugar 
1/4 cup lemon juice 
1/2 cup water 
1 box low-sugar pectin 

In a large, heavy bottomed stock pot, mix the peaches, 1/4 cup sugar, jalapeños, water and pectin. 

 Cook on medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil.  
Add the rest of the sugar, bring back to a hard boil and boil for 1 minute.  

Hot pack the jam and either turn over to seal or hotwater process.  You can also make this a freezer jam. 
make sure to boil your lids
Use a jar funnel to fill the jars, wipe the rim and inside jar
with a sterilized rag

Use a lid lifter to help put the lid on the jar
and then lightly tighten a ring around it. 

Bite Me Blueberry Plum Jam

Alison and I came up with this recipe after making our Twisted Blueberry Plum and thinking, "Hmm.. Jalapeños would be great in this".  This jam has a kick, but it is not overpowering.  We serve it over cream cheese, in wonton cups filled first with cream cheese, or my dad likes it straight up on toast.


3 limes, sliced as thinly as possible 
6 pounds washed and chopped plums
2 pounds pitted fresh cherries 
8 jalapenos, diced (include sees if  you like it spicier)
5 pounds granulated sugar 
2 cups filtered water
1 box low-sugar pectin


In a large, heavy bottomed stock pot, put the sliced limes and water, simmer for 30 minutes.  Do not allow it to boil dry.  Add in the plums, cherries, and jalapeños.  Cook until the fruit is soft and pulpy.  Add the sugar and boil for 30 minutes, constantly stirring.  After 30 minutes, add the pectin and boil for 1 minute.  Pack into warm sterilized jars.  We hot pack these by putting the lids and rings on the jars and flipping them over to seal.  You can hot water process or just put in the freezer. 

Twisted Blueberry Plum Jam

This is a tried and true jam recipe.  Make sure you slice the grapefruit as thin as you can!  We are fans of hot packing our jams.  It is just easier.  There is a slightly higher risk of spoilage, but after doing this for 3 years, it has only happened once when we were not careful with cleaning the edges of the jars.  You have to be careful to use sterilized jars (we use the dishwasher and keep them hot) and lids.


1 large ruby red grapefruit, sliced as thinly as possible
6 pounds of processes plums (washed and chopped)
2 pounds fresh or frozen blueberries
5 pounds of sugar 
1 box low sugar pectin 
2 cups filtered watered


In a large, heavy bottomed stock pot place the sliced grapefruit and water, simmer for 30 minutes.  Do not let it boil dry!  Add the fruit and berries and cook until it is soft and pulpy. Add the sugar and boil for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, add the low-sugar pectin and let boil for 1 minutes.  Pour into prepared jars and freeze, hot pack, or process pack it.