Jam Making 101: Let’s get sticky!

Peaches and ginger
Peaches and ginger
Now that you have brought together all your supplies and have your fruit, it is time to make some jam. Best to set aside at least 3-4 hours, so we aren’t rushing anything. Here we go!

Peach Ginger Jam (makes 3-4 pints, or 6-7 1/2 pints)

5 1/2 – 6 cups of peaches, peeled and sliced
5 – 6 cups sugar (depending on how sweet the peaches are, use more or less sugar)
2 TBS lemon juice
6 coins of fresh ginger (peel ginger, and slice into coins)

Prepare the peaches: if the peaches are difficult to peel, drop them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then plunge into ice water and peel. Otherwise, peel and pit, then slice the peaches, measuring as you go. Add lemon juice.

Prepare the sugar: it is easiest to measure the sugar in advance into a separate bowl.

Peaches in pot
Peaches in pot
Into your big pot, pour the peaches and lemon juice, and then add the sugar and ginger. Turn the heat on medium-low, and allow the fruit and sugar to heat up. As the sugar dissolves, stir the fruit and attach your thermometer. Cook the jam, stirring occasionally, maintaining a low boil, until the temperature reaches 220F (if you are cooking at any altitude over 1000ft, check this chart for correct temperatures). Total cook time is about 1 hour 30 minutes – watch closely and stir often in the last 30 minutes so you don’t scald your jam.

In the meantime, while your jam is cooking, wash the jars and rings with hot, soapy water. Fill your canning pot with water and bring to a boil. Sterilize your jars for at least 5 minutes. I usually bring the water to a boil, add my clean jars, turn the heat down, and allow them to sit there until I am ready to fill with jam.

Take your lids (the flat portion with the rubber ring) and place them in a small pot or bowl. Pour boiling hot water over the top and set aside until ready to use.

Gather your other supplies, including towels and set up your work surface, which should be close to

Cooked jam
Cooked jam
your canning pot. Set up a place to bring the pot with jam, and next to that, put a folded towel with your ladle. Nearby, put your wide-mouthed funnel on a plate (to catch the drips). Have your lids and rings close by, along with another towel laid out on the work surface – this is for the finished products.

Ok, you are now ready to go – bring your jam over to your work surface. Working quickly, but not in a rushed way, use your jar lifter and tongs to remove a hot jar from the water bath. Turn it over on the towel to remove extra water. Flip back and put the wide-mouthed funnel on top. Using the ladle, scoop a small amount of jam and pour into the jar. Fill the jar almost to the top, leaving a 1/4 inch gap at the

Wide mouth ladle atop jar
Wide mouth ladle atop jar
top. Remove the funnel, and if any jam has accidentally ended up on the rim of the jar, use a towel dipped in hot water to wipe clean.

Using your tongs, grab one of the lids and put atop the jar; seal with a ring. Tighten, but not too much, and flip the jar over onto the clean towel. Repeat with remaining jars and jam, working quickly but not in a rushed way. As you get to the end, if you have any leftover jam that won’t fill a jar completely, pour into a bowl and store in the fridge for immediate use.

Jar upside down
Jar upside down

When all the jars have been filled, using your jar lifter, return the jars to the canning pot. Make sure that the water is 2 inches above the lids, and boil for 5 minutes (again, if you are making jam at altitude, check this chart for processing times). Remove to clean towel to cool. As the jars cool, you will hear little pops as the vacuum seal is created.

After the jars have cooled, label and store in a cool, dark place. And think about your next canning project!

11 comments

  1. I just ordered a bushel (YES, a bushel) of Western Colorado peaches, so I am bookmarking this!

    Aimee Greeblemonkeys last blog post..Late to the License Plate Party, But Still Have Something To Say

  2. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    a bushel? How much is that exactly? I am thinking you are going to need a couple more recipes, and a few billion jars 😉

  3. KGG,

    It looks fantastic. I love peaches, this is the best time of year. What are you serving your masterpiece with?

    –Marc

    chefectomys last blog post..Adam and Eve Takeout – BBQ Pizza of Fig, Gorgonzola and Prosciutto

  4. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    well, I actually stow most of the jars away in the garage to give as gifts later, but at least one stays out in the fridge for use right away. I thought about being ambitious and making a loaf of fresh bread, but the best I could do was bringing home a loaf of Acme Whole Wheat. In any case, fresh toasted bread, good butter, and dollops of jam is just about perfection!

    So, what is your favorite kitchen gadget?

  5. OK, here goes nothing! I love your recipe, since I don’t want to deal with pectin and figuring out that whole mess. Quick question; do you turn the jars upside down before you put them into the boiling water, then right side up in the pot, then upside down again when they come out? Trying to get all the details right in case there’s some mojo I miss…

    My favorite gadget, small as it is, is likely the tiny 6$ strawberry huller I got from Pampered Chef. My family mocks my inability to use a plain knife as well on strawberries incessantly!

  6. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    Susan, glad you are game to give it a try!

    My process is:

    – take the empty jars out of the boiling water in the canning pot (when they are empty, they can be in any which way, but need to be filled with water to sterilize), turn them upside down on a towel to remove all remaining water
    – turn them right side up, and using the ladle and wide mouthed funnel, pour jam into jar, leaving 1/4″ at the top
    – wipe with wet paper towel around rim of jar to make sure no jam is there (that will hurt the seal)
    – put lid and ring on jar
    – put jars back into the canning processor right side up and process (boil) for 5 minutes
    – alternatively, you can avoid the canning processor by using the inversion method. This is very straight forward – once you fill the jars and seal with lids and rings, flip the jars over on a towel for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, flip right-side up and a vacuum will be created. You can hear the little pops at the lid seals.

    Hope this clears things up, please let me know if you have any other questions….

  7. KGG, the jam turned out great! It might be a tiny bit more sticky than I’m used to, but not unspreadable, and fairy impressive that it got that solid without pectin.

    Now that I (as predicted) have the jam-making-canning bug, I’d love to use the home-picked blackberries sitting in the freezer. There are a load of recipes out there, but I was hoping you might have a favorite (again sans pectin), since I don’t want to mess with sucess and the peach ginger jam turned out so heavenly!

  8. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    Great news Susan! Glad to hear it worked out well.

    Yes, my jam is thicker than most I have seen lately. I might try experimenting with that next year. I would have to do some testing, as I think that you need to cook the jam to a certain point for it to set, but I could be completely wrong.

    I started by canning ollalieberries (like a blackberry, but longer and thinner), using a similar method. I run about 1/2 to 3/4 of the berries through a food mill, then add whole berries that I crush a little to make 9 cups total. Then I add 6 cups sugar. Proceed as with the jam above. I have not experimented with any additional flavors with the ollalieberry, I would be interested to hear if you decide to experiment.

    Thanks for the update, glad to hear about your successes!

  9. Ollalieberries! I grew up with those berries: deliciousness. What a helpful post!

    Lelos last blog post..Preserving the harvest: some nuts and bolts about what I’ve learned and resources

  10. OK, I’ll give it a whirl! (Through my food processor, anyway…) Did you add lemon juice? Or anything else pectin-y, like apple?

    Eh, I figure even if it fails, it should be lovely ice cream topping. Thanks!

  11. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    It is just sugar and berries, cooked to 220F. And yes, I have had mine fail before and it makes a lovely ice cream topping.

    Happy to loan you my food mill, you want to eliminate some seeds, otherwise your food processor idea would work just peachy….

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