Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The sweet flavors of summer....

Fruit is one of my greatest joys in summertime, and although they are very good plain, I love to bake with them! Baking with fruit is (for the most part) simple to do, and I love adding fruit to pound cakes, and bunt cakes, as well as pancakes and tarts. But one of the more tricky things to make with fruit is jam. And as I have a bad habit of changing recipes and substituting ingredients to make it the way I want, they don't always come out as I would like: especially with jam. So I guess I could be a good girl (as Nona says), and make the recipes the way I am supposed to and they will most always turn out perfect every time.....but where's the fun in that?!? I love to experiment with new ideas and flavors, and come up with many delicious ideas in the process.

So the other day I decided to make peach jam. We had ordered two big boxes of peaches from a friend, and although we were eating them as fast as we could, and I was baking with them in almost everything, we still had a whole box left and they were starting to go bad.

It took me well over two hours, but I finished the
whole box. And the total count for one, 25lb
box of  peaches was: 36 jars! I had never made so much
jam in my life. And the one thing that was cool, was
it was fun! (although I was really, REALLY sick of
peaches after that....) ;P

So having finished the peaches, I decided to try a new
recipe that I have had on my list for the longest time:
Pop Tarts.
So I set up my station and got to work. A friend had given me a recipe for peach jam with Earl Grey tea steeped in it. It sounded really good, so I decided to try it.....
I decided to use strawberry jam for the
filling, and they turned out really well!
(I'll try to post the recipe on here
sometime soon.)
 They turned out nice and flaky, with just the right amount of jam in them. (Similar to a regular pop tart, but with flavors that delight your taste buds, giving you the delusion that you have your very own personal pastry chef....)  ;)
And these are made with whole wheat--thus making them healthy for you too! :D

The peaches were done, and the pop tarts out of the oven, and I was just getting ready to clean up the kitchen when mom reminded me that we had three packages of grapes sitting in the fridge.....and you know what that meant.....
More jam! :)

This time, I didn't add enough pectin, and I had to empty the jars back into the pot and re-do it, but even though it frustrated me, I didn't give up: and now we have 50 jars of jam! That's all in one day, and it only took about four hours (which could seem like quite a long time, but put some of your favorite music on, and just loose yourself in the sweet flavors and aromas of fruit, and it will go by much faster than you would think!) You can add most any flavors that you like to jams, and its super easy to play around with them, so just have fun with it, and I wish you happy jamming! ;)

Simple Peach Jam:

10 cups fresh peaches (pitted and chopped)
4 cups sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
2 packages dry pectin (or- 6 or 7 tbs)

Mix the peaches, sugar, and lemon juice together in a large heavy pot (cast iron works best, but just about any pot will do), and turn the burner on med./low. The mixture will seem a bit dry, but keep stirring and the natural juices of the peaches will come out. Higher the heat to a little over med. You can pretty much leave it alone (stirring occasionally), until it starts to boil. Meanwhile, sterilize your jars and lids (either put them through the "sanitize" setting of your dishwasher, or fill a large pot with water, set them in there, and heat the water to just about boiling.) After the mixture starts to boil, keep an eye on it, and continue to stir it occasionally. Once it starts to boil rapidly (like a rolling boil....where it boils even when you stir it), add the pectin and stir it in. Let it boil with the pectin for two min., stirring two or three times (just so it doesn't splatter or anything). While you are waiting, get a wide-mouthed cereal bowl and fill it with ice and a little water. Take a smaller bowl and put it on top (the ice should be touching the bottom of the top bowl). Once the two min is up, turn off the heat, and with a small spoon, take a bit of the soon-to-be peach jam and put it in the top bowl. Wait about a min, and then with your finger or another spoon, test it to see if it has jelled. If it doesn't jell, then put the heat back on med,/high, and wait for it to boil again. Once it gets back to a rolling boil, add one or two more tbs pectin (or 1/2 to a whole packet). If it DID jell, then fill your jars to about 1/4th inch to the top, and put the lids on. Once they all are full, place them upright in a water bath (a.k.a.= the pot of water that you sterilized your jars in) for 7 min. When they are done, take them out and stet them on a towel or wooden cutting board (cooling racks tend to be a bit wobbly) and let cool completely. Do NOT touch them until they are completely cool! By touching or moving them, you could mess up the seal (BTW, the lids on the jars will give a loud pop when they seal, so don't be alarmed--it is completely normal). Once they are cool, you can store them in your pantry for up to a year, and refrigerate after opening. Enjoy! :)


  1. I think I am right there with you on changing recipes around. It can be a common trait I think. It all looks like it turned out yummy-nummy! You will have to tell me how the Earl Grey jam turned out, seeing I haven't many peaches left to try it myself! :)

  2. You are so cool! But now I want peach jam:) I love it all!