I made and canned peach jam last week. My kitchen is still recovering from the mess I made. I’m finding little globs of stickiness everywhere.
I got the peaches at the Nashville Farmer’s Market downtown. I have to say that I was not overly impressed. I went mainly for peaches and beans. The peaches were not bad, but they were no Georgia peaches. As for the beans, I was searching for speckled limas and partridge heads, but all of the bins were marked only “pole beans.” When I asked which types of pole beans were in the bins, I received blank stares and shoulder shrugs. Ok then.
So, needless to say, my trip to the farmer’s market was not terribly fruitful. Ha.
When I got home, I assembled all of the things I would need to make jam. I’d never made anything except freezer jam before so this canning thing was a first. I had purchased the few necessary items for canning several years back but had yet to give it a go.
Have I mentioned I’m very on top of things?
First order of business: figure out how to can.
I thought I would have someone teach me how to can. Turns out no one in my family really cans anymore so I was left to my own devices. I have a book on canning so I started my adventure with a little bit of light reading.
My peaches weren’t super ripe yet so I set them out on a plate and put that plate on my deck. Normally, I would have put them in a paper bag on my deck, but I was fresh out of paper bags. Thankfully, Gus was there to keep an eye on the peaches for me.
While the peaches were ripening (in my mind, at least), I pulled out my canner and the jars. The jars went into the Jacuzzi and then the jar lids into another pot to be sterilized. I assembled my jar clamps, some tongs, a baking sheet to rest the jars on as I filled them, a funnel, pectin, lemons, sugar, the recipes, and some courage.
With the jars and lids heating up, I peeled and chopped up the peaches and then poured them into the pot with the lemon juice. Then I stirred in the pectin.
And finally, I stirred in the sugar. FIVE cups of it. After realizing what goes into jam, I’m not sure I want to eat jam.
But my guess is that I will eat it and enjoy it thoroughly, forgetting how many cups of sugar I’m inhaling on a biscuit.
There’s a lot of stirring that goes on at this stage until the mixture comes to a hard boil. After about 1 minute of this, you turn it off and it’s ready to be jarred!
I didn’t get a picture of the transferring of the jam to the jars using the funnel. It’s a very messy job and should be done fairly quickly to make sure everything stays hot. My camera would be covered in goop and my jam would have been cold if I had tried to document that part. Maybe I’ll hire an assistant next time.
After I got all of the jam transferred to the hot jars that I pulled out of the water bath with my jar clamps (it took me a minute or 10 to get the hang of these), I fished out the jar tops from the other pot using regular tongs and placed them on the jars. Then I put on the screw tops (but just until I met resistance!). It’s important that these aren’t too tight. Something about making sure the jars seal properly. Kind of critical.
Then it was bath time again! I put the lid on the canner and brought the water up to a simmer and let it go for 10 minutes to ensure that the jars sealed. At this point the canning process wass almost complete.
Then, I just took the jars out (expertly with my jar clamps pictured here) and rested them on a baking sheet on the counter, covered with a tea towel. I left them there for 24 hours as they finished sealing, indicated by a popping sound. Every 30 minutes or so, one of the jars would pop and Gus and Scarlett would nearly jump out of their skins. I guess they’ve never canned anything before. Gus has only experienced the un-canning of his salmon morsels.
Although I was somewhat skeptical of my handywork, all of my jars sealed tightly. Those lids don’t budge. I screwed the tops on all the way and then triumphantly labeled and photographed my jars. I need to give most of them away because I certainly don’t need to eat all of that jam myself unless I want to be in dentures by the time I’m 30.
Pleased with myself, I went back into the kitchen to get a snack. I lost my appetite when I realized what a mess I had made in the canning process. And then I was not so pleased with myself.
That jam better be pretty darn good.
Y’all come back,