"The peaches are here! The peaches are here!"
Every year at this time, the entire world stops in my office when the word goes out...the peaches are here! One of our attorneys, based in South Carolina, sends boxes of Mac's Pride peaches from McLeod Farms to certain lucky people as corporate gifts. Those people then become very popular as the rest of us try to sweet-talk as many of the delicious fruits as we can. These peaches are almost obscenely good...perfectly ripe, so sweet and full of flavor...office drones suddenly become greedy children as they wolf them down with juice dribbling down chins and arms.
So I clearly had to make something good when I scored a large bag of these peaches. Enter this jam. Oh my FREAKIN God why have I not been making jam until now??? This jam is so delicious I found myself eating it straight from the jar with a spoon. JD said it tastes like peach cobbler in a jar. I can't even describe to you how incredibly good this is. Just trust me: you need to make this jam.
adapted from Food in Jars
makes approximately 7 pints of jam
10 cups peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
6 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
zest and juice from 2 lemons
2 packets liquid pectin
Prepare jars: wash pint or half-pint jars and rings in hot soapy water, rinse, and set aside. Put lids in small saucepan of water and bring to a simmer (do not boil). Keep lids in saucepan over low heat.
Prepare canner: put rack in bottom of canner or large pot (no rack? just line the bottom of the pot with extra jar rings) and fill with water. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Prepare peaches: bring large pot of water to a boil. Fill large bowl with ice water. Blanch peaches, 2 at a time, in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and put into ice water. Repeat with remaining peaches. Using paring knife, peel, pit and dice peaches.
Place peaches and sugar into large, heavy-bottomed pot and mix together. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then add the cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest and lemon juice. Boil, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, put a small plate in the freezer (you'll use this to check for gel later).
Use a potato masher to break up the peaches if they are too chunky for your taste. Add the pectin, stir, and bring to a rolling boil. Keep at rolling boil and continue to stir for a full five minutes. Check for gel: put a small blob of jam on the plate from the freezer and let it cool. Gently push the blob with your finger; if the jam wrinkles a bit, the jam is ready. If your finger just pushes through the jam, continue to cook for another five minutes and then check again.
Turn off the heat under the jam and line up your jars. Carefully fill jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe jar rims clean with paper towel, apply lids, and screw on rings (not too tight). Carefully lower jars into boiling water canner, cover, and process for 10 minutes. Remove jars from canner and let cool on dishtowel-lined countertop. When cool, check the seals by pushing down on the lids. If the lid doesn't move, the jar is sealed and can be stored up to a year in cool, dark place. If the jar didn't seal, the jam is still good...you just need to keep it in the refrigerator and eat within 3 weeks.
Note: I also got a lot of great canning tips and info from Put 'em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton.