This peach jam is amazing! It’s so amazing that I’m going to have to make more. My family loved it so much that I only have these two little 4 ounce jars left a little over a week after making it. That’s just two little 1/2 cup jars! They demolished the stuff!. It’s wonderful on ice cream. It’s also good on waffles, and it passed my 15 year old son’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich test.
From a cook’s standpoint this recipe was especially fun, because I got to see how it evolved, as each cook put her own touch on it. The original recipe comes from Mary Ann Dragan’s Well Preserved: Small Batch Preserving for the New Cook I found the recipe reprinted a couple times on the net by the time my friend Maggie got her hands on it. It was Maggie’s idea to transform the recipe into a sweet and salty treat.
I loved Maggie’s idea, but the more I looked at the recipe, I realized I wanted it to be truly butterscotch and it was going to need an addition of butter and vanilla. After all, butterscotch isn’t butterscotch without BUTTER! So I put my own spin on the recipe. Maggie and I share a similar cooking style in that we follow measurement’s very loosely and go more by taste. The measurements I give allow for differing ripeness of your peaches and personal preference. For instance, I didn’t use quite as much salt as Maggie because I have relatively sensitive taste buds, and don’t like my food uber salty. Also, my peaches were very ripe and sweet, and didn’t need as much sugar. These peaches were a surprise gift from my neighbors who got them from their parents’ unsprayed tree. Local and chemical free …. the best way to go.
Salted Butterscotch Peach Jam
6 cups peaches, peeled and pitted
1/3 cup lemon juice
Up to 5 cups of brown sugar (I only needed about 4 1/4 cups)
4 tablespoons butter
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 teaspoons GOOD salt (I used French grey sea salt)
First peel and pit your peaches. The easiest way to do this is to drop your peaches into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute, and then remove them to an ice water bath with a slotted spoon. Work in small batches and make sure you bring the water back to a full boil between batches. After scalding, the skins should slip off relatively easily. Split the peaches in half with a knife, remove the stone, and chop the flesh. I know Maggie left her skins on, but I just can’t stand peach skin. I even peel fresh peaches before eating them.
Place the peaches in a large heavy pot and smoosh them up. You can use a potato masher or your hands. Add lemon juice, sugar to taste, butter, and vanilla bean specks. Bring the mixture up to a simmer and then continue to cook over low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring often. Cooking time will vary. My peaches were extremely juicy, and I cooked for a full 1 1/2 hours to bring the jam to a thick consistency. As stated in the Well Preserved book, “Long-cooked jams use less sugar than those made with commercial pectin, and, I believe, have a more intense fruit flavor.”
At this point, I removed the jam from the stove and set it aside to let it cool while I fixed dinner. I did this for two reasons. First, my family was hungry and things were about to get ugly. Secondly, I can’t properly taste anything if it’s too hot or cold. Since I was going to be adding salt I wanted to be sure I got it right. Also, by cooling, I was able to see if the consistency of the jam was too my liking.
After dinner I assembled my water bath canner, jars, lids, and other canning accouterments. Then I added my salt to taste. You should do the same. You might want more, you may want less. The point is you want it to taste good to YOU. Once the flavor was to my liking I brought the jam back up to a simmer, poured it into my hot jars, and processed. If you’re unfamiliar with the canning process, there are many good books and online tutorials. A quick online search should give you more than you ever wanted to know.