Now that I’m a member of the Sisterhood of Jam Makers, I feel compelled to ramble on about my jam-making escapades, including the finer points of fruit selection, a thorough listing of tools and procedures, and even a detailed account of my quest to make simple-but-sassy jar labels. But to keep from losing any of my three loyal blog readers, I offer an earnest attempt at brevity in my recreation of The Day I Made Jam.
Earlier in the week, Pappy had seen a sign at a local farmers’ market advertising fresh South Carolina peaches.
Let me take a moment here to note that yes, I realize peaches look (and maybe even feel) like little butts. In fact, the sophomoric pleasure I’ve derived from that similarity over the years cannot be quantified. When I was little, my family lived in South Carolina for awhile and often drove by the giant peach in Gaffney, SC. My brother and I would laugh and laugh at the momentous fruity booty as we sailed past in our parents’ orange Nova.
I left it to Pappy to choose just the right peaches at the farmers’ market because he has lots of canning experience. He selected ones that were very ripe – so ripe that if you were eating them raw you’d have to polish them off within a day or two or they’d go bad. While he picked peaches, I enjoyed the scenery at the market. Everything looked succulent and smelled so fresh.
I searched online for peach jam recipes and ended up loosely following this one. We opted for the lower-sugar version but later added some extra sugar because we had more peach goo than the recipe called for.
My favorite part of jam making was peeling the skins off the peaches after we scalded them. It was slippery and fun! Then we halved the peaches and broke them into bits – also pleasing and squishy.
We boiled and stirred and boiled and stirred some more. We used nearly two boxes of pectin (thickener) but in truth, that wasn’t enough because our jam isn’t quite as thick as regular jam.
The day we made jam I had a terrible allergy attack. Since my nose was clogged, I couldn’t taste anything so as we cooked Pappy described the smells and flavors to me. Later when I tried some I found it tasted like summer – SO delicious.
I didn’t have a pan tall enough to immerse the jars in boiling water to seal them. Instead we pulled hot jars straight from the heated drying cycle of the dishwasher, filled them, lidded them (with lids and rings pulled directly from boiling water), and then turned them upside down to sit. After about an hour, they’d sealed themselves.
I didn’t buy any special tools because I wasn’t sure I’d want to make jam again. Now that I know I would, I’d like to buy a wide-mouth funnel and maybe one of those magnetic lid grabber deals. I would also tear my hands off and replace them with asbestos prostheses because HOLY BALLS, working with lids and rings that have been sitting in boiling water is burn-y.
Another great part of making jam was hearing my Dad’s stories about his canning exploits. He also told me about his mother putting up hundreds and hundreds of jars of fruits and veggies every year. He fondly remembered eating juicy peaches in the middle of cold winters thanks to her hard work.
Needless to say, I don’t need to be eating jam so I’ll mostly be giving jars as gifts. I wanted to spiff up the jars some how. I found labels online but they seemed hokey or had pictures of other fruits on them. The jars we bought came with lids that had cheesy fruit graphics on them too so I ditched those for plain lids. I may add fabric circles and ribbon to some jars (like this.) For the jars I gave to Moxy and Lean, I printed simple tags on cute paper, cut them out using my circle cutter, hole punched them, and tied them around the lids with ribbon.