I've been wanting to try my hand at canning for a very long time, but was always so intimidated. Now that I've gotten my feet wet in the kitchen, I was thinking it might be time to just go for it. I decided to start out with water bath canning, I pretty much want to stick with jams, jellies and salsas, so this method is fine for that, plus it's less expensive to get started. My water bath pot was less than half the cost of what I would have paid for a good sized pressure cooker, plus the cost of the basic canning kit.
I bought the jars themselves at Kroger, so at least I saved on some shipping there, plus I was able to 'see' it first hand, which gave me a better feel for sizing, which is extremely important. If the jars were too small, they would fall through the wire wrack in the canning pot. Turns out though that a pint sized jar of jam is huge! I couldn't go with the standard half pint because they are too thin and wouldn't fit well on the wrack, so I ordered some wide mouth half-pint jars for next time. I plan to make some hot pepper jelly and apple butter, feel free to send your favorite recipes of either along, I haven't decided exactly how I want to go about them yet.
We picked up a bag of beautiful white peaches at the orchard this past Saturday, so peach jam was an obvious choice. I searched and searched and finally came across a jam recipe that sounded solid, then jazzed it up.
Vanilla Spiced Peach Jam
1 Vanilla bean, split
6 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2.5-3 cups sugar
5 lbs peaches, peeled and chopped (about 13 peaches)
1. Place all ingredients in a heavy large pot; stir to combine. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain boil.
2. While the mixture boils, mash fruit with a potato masher to desired consistency *. Boil an additional 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, or until slightly thickened**. (Temperature should be about 221 F.) Remove from heat; remove vanilla bean.
3. Pour hot jam into 8 sterilized 8-oz. jars. Carefully wipe jar rims; cover. (Jam can be made up to 1 month ahead and refigerated or up to 6 months ahead and frozen.) To store at room temperature, immediately process in a boiling water bath for 5 five minutes.
4. Immediately process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
* Tip - I would recommend cutting the peaches into cubes versus the slices you see in the picture. I had a hard time smashing them and actually had to pull out the immersion blender to help!
** Tip - To test jam, place a small plate into the freezer to chill. When jam begins to thicken slightly, place a small amount of jam on chilled plate; return to freezer for 1 to 2 minutes. When set, jam will be slightly set and will not run on plate. If jam is too thin and runny, cook an addition 1 to 2 minutes before testing again.
I doubled the original recipe so that I would have enough jam to make it worth doing. The flavor is really amazing, but it was WAY too sweet! Doubled, it was 6 cups of sugar, I've adjusted it to 4 in the recipe above. The flavor of the caradamon really comes through, and there's no mistaking the little black vanilla beans! Like Megan, I too think this is going to be unbelievable on vanilla ice cream..mmmmm.
You start with this...
And get this...look at the vanilla bean in there!
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