While other people are waving flags at the Fourth of July town parade, I celebrate by filling flats at a pick-your-own berry farm. Once home, the canning kettle is dusted off and the mason jars come up from the basement.
Recipes for jam should come with a warning label: “Danger, habit-forming process ahead. May result in eating more fruit and sugar than is good for you.” Because once I get started, I’m hopeless. Instead of bringing home a few quarts of berries to share with the family, fruit comes into the kitchen by the armful. Advice to exercise moderation in everything is tossed aside when fresh berries are in season.
Making jam may appear easy, and for the most part it is. I am reminded of what a neighbor once said about the art of preserving: “It is like learning to drive a car on the ice—it’s a little tricky at first, but then once you get the hang of it, it is easy.” And the rewards? Delicious.
Raspberry Peach Jam
Makes 6 pints
Raspberries and peaches are old friends, and ripen at the same time during the summer. They are especially convivial in this jam, with chunks of sweet peaches blending nicely with the tartness of the raspberries. Spread this jam on toast on the grayest winter morning to bring back the memory of summer in a jar.
4 ripe peaches (about 2 pounds)
2 pints fresh raspberries
Juice of 2 lemons (6 tablespoons)
6 cups sugar
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the peaches and cook until the skins loosen, about 1 minute (this will take longer if the peaches are not ripe). Take care not to actually cook the peaches. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. The skins should then slip off easily. Peel and pit peaches and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes.
In a medium bowl, stir together the peaches, raspberries, and lemon juice. Measure out 4 cups and transfer to a large stainless-steel or enameled pot. With a wooden spoon, stir in the sugar and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. While mixture is coming to a boil, open the envelope of liquid pectin and set it aside, standing upright in a cup. When the mixture reaches a rolling boil, one that can’t be stirred down, keep it at a hard boil for 1 minute, stirring continuously to prevent scorching. If you have a candy thermometer, place it in the pot and watch until it reaches 220°F.
Turn off the heat and immediately stir in the pectin. Skim off the foam on the surface of the jam with a metal spoon and continue to stir for 5 minutes, skimming as needed, to blend the pectin.
How to Can
Using a wide-mouth funnel, ladle the hot jam into 6 sterilized 1-pint mason jars, leaving 1/4-inch headroom. Wipe the rims clean with hot water and place rubber lids and screw tops to seal. Turn upside down to vacuum seal. Let cool and label.
How to Store
Store in a cool pantry or dark cupboard away from direct light. Best if used within the year, but will keep longer.