Peach Freezer Jam

My mother used to make this jam and my children loved it!  I’ve never made peach jam, so after seeing this year’s peach crop, I decided to not let another year go by without giving it a go.  Here we go:

I bought the jars and boiled them, I left them in the hot water while I prepared the jam.  And here’s how I prepared the jam:

I bought a case of farm fresh peaches from a farmer’s market near my farm.  I did the hot water method of “peeling” them – (side note: Boil a pot of water, drop the peaches in (just a few at a time, try four because you don’t want the water to stop boiling) for 45 – 60 seconds, then scoop the peaches out and drop them into an ice water bath for 45 – 60 seconds.  The skin will slide right off.)

The ingredients look like this:

About 8 peaches (depending on the size) will make 4 cups of mashed fruit

1 cup of honey and one cup of sugar

juice of one lemon

about 4 inches of a dried vanilla bean

a little pinch of salt to enhance the flavours

I took the “peeled” peaches and with the steel blade in my food processor, I pulsed the peaches until they were chopped but not a puree.  I, then, mixed four cups of chopped peaches with one cup of honey, one cup of granulated white sugar, one half of a vanilla bean, (I sliced open the vanilla bean and scraped the seeds into the peach and honey mixture, then threw the bean skin and seeds into the pot), the juice of one lemon.  While this is heating over a low heat, I mixed in the pectin*, I just stirred the powder in and kept stirring until the mixture came to the boil.  The full, rolling boil is important because you want all the sugar to melt and all the flavours to blend.  After a five minute  full rolling boil, turn the heat off and get the jars out of the hot water.  The mixture should still be boiling, or very close to it when you put the mixture into the jars.  Fill the jars – leaving about a half inch at the top to allow for freezing expansion, wipe the top of the jar and put the lid on.  I flip mine upside down to cool, this is what I do with my maple syrup when it is cooling too.  You will hear the jars “ping” – that’s the vacuum seal happening.  I keep this jam in the freezer, it will keep up to a year, but once the jar is open, the jam should be used within a month.  But this jam is soooo good, you’ll have it finished tout suite!

 

*Pectin – I debated whether or not to use pectin.  I am pretty careful about chemicals, I shop at Whole Foods, and farmers’ markets – I buy organic options when I have the choice.  So pectin was a bit of a wild card.  I did my homework and decided that because pectin is derived from a plant source and according to the research I did on several websites, it is perfectly safe for human consumption.  But here’s the thing with the pectin – it’s used to thicken the jam, so if runny jam it okay with you, why go to the expensive and bother of including it in your jam.  I used it and quite frankly, my jam is a little to thick for my liking.  Next time, I’ll either cut it in half or leave it out completely.

 

Maple Syrup

If you are any where in the north, and by north, I mean north of Atlanta!  My farm is in Ontario and we have had a LONG, COLD winter.  My horses have spent more time in their blankets than out of their blankets in the unheated barn!  And, it’s been my experience that when you have a farm, and particularly if you have animals on the farm, you check the weather constantly.   I check my weather app in the middle of the night!  This morning for the first time in months, the temperature is hovering just below freezing and that means that we will all go into a frenzy to set up for maple syrup season!

Sap buckets ready for Spring!

Sap buckets ready for Spring!

Washing pails, making sure you have enough lids, and the wire that holds the lid, checking taps and of course, making sure your trail to the pails is clear enough to get to the sap.  I use a snowmobile to pat down the trail.  I use a Yamaha Rhino with a 100 gallon plastic container in the back to bring the sap from the maple forest to the place where I boil. I will make sure I have gas in the Rhino and rinse out the 100 gallon container.

Maple Syrup Evaporator

Maple Syrup Evaporator

I have a new maple syrup evaporator with stacked stainless steel pans.  I had it build with the pans stacked so that while the sap is boiling down, the residual heat will pre-heat the fresh, newer sap, saving a lot of time and heat.  The two pans are piped so that as one batch is finishing, the next batch is ready to drop into the boil pan.  My evaporator is lined with fire-brick, so I will check the fire-brick and make sure that it’s in good repair for this season.

Spring is in the air!

Maple Syrup - First Jar!

Maple Syrup – First Jar!