A bit of a “peachy” hue on the blog these days. But when you have a few hundred peaches with a limited shelf life, you work with the peaches (we are also giving them away to friends, whether they want them or not ;-) ). The only thing at the farm we have more of than peaches is lavender. It’s everywhere, and mostly for the bees. But since we have peaches and lavender, we are making Peach Lavender jam.
This recipe comes from the excellent canning and pickling book “Tart and Sweet” from Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler. We are by no means experts on canning and pickling, so this book is a great tool with both recipes and very clear guidelines for safe canning. But the key for any home canning / pickling is to use the base recipe and then follow your standard, safe processing instructions. Most setups will be similar, but some equip will vary. Just remember, sterilization is always a good thing.
As for the actual jam, this is really a peach jam with a touch of floral, herbal and tannic notes from the lavender. The lavender keeps the sweetness of the peaches from overwhelming the flavor of the jam. But the key is just a hint of lavender. Too much lavender and your jam will taste like soap. In fact, you don’t actually put lavender in the jam at all, just steep some lavender in water, strain it out and the add the water to the fruit. Again, go easy with the lavender- less is more.
The process of making jam isn’t complex, but it is time-consuming. Making jam is a good activity to do with friends and/or a great way to put your kids to work. First you must sterilize and prepare your equipment. Make sure everything is good order before you start. As for the jam, you need to skin and pit 6 pounds of peaches. This involves cutting an X in the base of the peach, briefly blanching it in boiling water, plunging it in an ice bath and then skinning and pitting the peach. We take an assembly (dis-assembly?) line approach, but even with help, this takes a while. But we don’t do this every day either, so it was (kinda) fun.
Once you have the peaches peeled and pitted the work is easier, but still requires time. You need to bring the peaches, some sugar and lemon juice to a boil in a large pot and cook the fruit for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile you need to steep some dried lavender flowers in 1 cup of boiling water for about 20 minutes. Strain the lavender from the water and add the water to the peaches. Then blend the peaches with an immersion blender, or in batches on a stand-up blender. Then add calcium water, pectin and sugar to the fruit and cook until you get a jammy consistency. To finish the jam, put it in hot jars and process for 10 minutes. Then cool and eat.
The Peach Lavender jam is very peachy and sweet but does have slightly floral notes and a touch of tannic mouthfeel. We like it quite a bit, as it has more complexity than some jams. We eat the jam on toast for breakfast but will also use it in desserts. Good stuff. Now we just need to use the other 20 pounds of peaches….
Peach Lavender Jam:
(Adapted from “Tart and Sweet”)
Notes Before You Start:
- Make sure to follow all safe processing instructions when canning or pickling.
- The recipe calls for calcium water. To make calcium water add 1/2 teaspoon calcium powder to 1/2 cup of water.
What You Get: A tasty, sweet and complex peach jam.
What You Need: A full setup for canning. Lots of gear.
How Long? Expect 2-3 hours of active time and another 4-8 hours of time to cool the jam. This is a “plan-ahead-and-invite-your-friends-to-help” kind of recipe. (Serve them Bellinis while they work.)
- 6 pounds of peaches, peeled, pitted and quartered
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 cups of sugar, equally divided
- 6 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/4 cup calcium water (see notes above)
- 3 tablespoons pectin powder (Pomona’s Universal Pectin powder preferred)
- Add the peaches, lemon juice and 1 cup of sugar to a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Meanwhile, steep the lavender in the boiling water for 20 minutes. Them strain the lavender from the water and add the water to the peaches. When the peaches break down, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and blend the peaches with an immersion blender or in batches using a standing blender. Blend until smooth. Return all the peaches to the pot (if necessary) and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the calcium water.
- In a small bowl combine the pectin powder and the remaining 1 cup of sugar. Add this to the peach mixture in the pot and simmer for another 20 minutes or until you reach a jammy consistency. Taste for sweetness. You can add sugar, if you like, but the jam will be sweeter when cooled. Skim any foam before processing.
- Ladle the jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Check for any air bubbles, wipe the rims and seal. Process for 10 minutes (adjust for elevation, if needed). Cool completely after processing. Serve, share.