May 18, 2012
My life is closely attuned to the seasons now that I am making my living preserving the harvest. The first beautiful peaches of the season arrived at our kitchen two weeks ago. Peach season always collides with rhubarb season, one of my other favorites. I can remember my mother picking wild rhubarb in our old neighborhood in New Jersey. She would walk up the side of our mountain donning her apron and pruners–I can see her just as if it was yesterday. I didn’t usually go with her on her walks in the woods. I was always amazed that she could identify a wild plant and bring it home to prepare a dessert for us, sometimes exposing herself to poison ivy along the way. All it took was a simple brush by the dreaded, shiny, three-leaf plant and two days later her arms would be covered in oozy, itchy blisters. I seemed to be immune thank God. The wild rhubarb was never bright red, mostly green and incredibly tart. She would fix us a strawberry rhubarb pie or cobbler or sometimes simply stew it with berries and serve with cream.
It is best to prepare the ingredients for this jam the day before cooking. Allowing this to macerate overnight allows the peaches and rhubarb to absorb the sugar. This recipe should yield 8 eight oz jars. If your peaches are really sweet, you can reduce the amount of sugar without hurting the texture of this jam. This jam should keep its beautiful texture and color for up to 12 months in a sealed jar.
3.5 lbs fresh peaches, chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 lb fresh chopped rhubarb
2 1/4 lbs sugar
1 oz crystallized ginger chopped finely
1/2 cup steeped lavender water (1/2 cup hot water, 2 Tbsp organic lavender flowers steeped)
Juice of one medium lemon
1. Chop peaches and rhubarb and place into a ceramic bowl or plastic container.
2. Add chopped crystallized ginger, sugar, lavender water and lemon juice.
3. Mix this thoroughly and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours, best if left overnight. Can be left up to two days in fridge.
Place a small plate in your freezer to test the jam for doneness. Prepare the tools you will need: Jar Lifter, Canning Funnel, Ladle, Kitchen towels
1. Prepare your water bath canner, add water and tablespoon of vinegar to keep the lids looking fresh. Boil 8 or 9 jars for 12 minutes to sterlize. Keep the jars in the warm water while you prepare the jam.
2. Using the widest pan you own, (I use a copper kettle), pour all of the ingredients into your pan.
3. Bring the heat up and stir to incorporate. Let this mixture boil until the color begins to change and the texture becomes a bit thicker. This jam is labor intensive as it will stick to the bottom of the pot in the later stages, but take your time allowing it to cook at least 20 to 25 minutes, stirring all along the way. The time will vary greatly depending on the size of your pot, trust your instincts and continue to stir until nicely thickened. Shut the flame. Get your plate out from the freezer and place a tablespoon of jam on the plate. Return to the freezer for one minute. Take the plate out and gently press the side of the jam with your finger, the jam should wrinkle slightly and then you will be sure it will have a fabulous consistency. When you tip the plate, the jam will slowly run down. If you do not get this result, cook the jam a bit longer and then retest. If you overcook this jam, it will be tough and stiff in texture and will taste “carmelized”. And then you can say….”oh well…” and hopefully you will try again and not be discouraged.
4. Rinse your lids in hot water. Take your jars out of the canner, place them on your prepared kitchen towel. Using a canning funnel, ladle the mixture into your jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a hot paper towel and place the lids on each jar, just “hand tight” for best results.
5. Place your jars into the water bath. Bring the water up to the boil. Set timer for 12 minutes.
6. Remove jars from the canner after 12 minutes, let them cool and check for seal. The jars should ping as they are cooling. If one should not seal, you can always re-process in the canner or simply put in the fridge.