Come August I always buy crates of peaches and usually a large portion of my purchase is cooked into delightful peach preserves. This fragrant jam is syrupy and soft-set with juicy peach chunks throughout. I love it slathered on scones, and hot toast or dollops stirred into yoghurt. Cyna uses the preserve as filling for cakes and pastries. The jars also make sweet additions for gift hampers or a hostess gift for a brunch or luncheon. You can download free printable labels to decorate your homemade peach jam at the end of the post. This recipe takes a little time to make, but the delicious golden-yellow peach preserves are well worth the effort!
What peaches should I use?
I recommend using peaches that are ripe and soft but not overripe and mushy and have no brown spots. You can prepare the preserves with white and yellow peaches interchangeably. I prefer the yellow peaches since they are tarter and more aromatic than the sweeter white peaches. Yellow peaches will give the cooked preserve a stronger peachy flavour while nicely balancing out the sweetness of the sugar.
What is jam sugar and why should I use it?
Jam sugar is regular sugar with added pectin. Pectin is a natural gelling agent, mainly extracted from citrus fruits, which is used to thicken jams and jellies. Peaches are naturally low in pectin, meaning these fruits don’t gel strongly and may make the preserve runny. Using jam sugar helps the liquid to gel evenly and also significantly reduce the cooking time, which means less standing over a steaming saucepan and less hot splatters. A shorter cooking time also helps to retain the flavour and colour of the peaches. If jam sugar isn’t available to you, use 1 kg (5 cups) granulated sugar and 1 (2 oz) package dry pectin.
Prep Time: 30 min
Marinade: 1 day
Cooking Time: 10 min
Yields: 4 – 6 jars
I kept the recipe simple. For some flavour, variations add one of the following: 1 tbsp vanilla extract, 3 tbsp peach liquor, or 1/2 cup slivered almonds.
- 1 kg (2.2 lb) ripe peaches (8 – 10 fruits)
- 1 kg (5 cups) jam sugar (see tip above)
- the juice of 1 large lemon
- 20g (1 tbsp) butter
- 5 to 6 jam/preserve jars with lids
- printable labels (see below)
- cutting board
- paring knife
- citrus press
- large mixing bowl with a lid or cling film (saran/plastic wrap)
- tall saucepan
- wooden cooking spoon
- oven mitt
- jam funnel
- kitchen towel or paper towels
- baking tray
1) Blanch the peaches
Fill a large bowl with ice cold water and set aside. Using a sharp paring knife, cut an x-shape into the bottom of each peach. Then fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a rolling boil. Submerge the fruits for 2 – 3 minutes, until the skin around the cut bottoms starts to loosen. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peaches to the bowl of cold water and let sit until cool enough to handle.
2) Peel and cut the peaches
Starting at the scored ends, peel away the skin with a knife. Next, divide the peaches in half, remove the pits and cut into thin slice.
3) Marinade the peaches
Alternate layers of peach slices and jam sugar in a large non-metallic bowl and add the lemon juice. Cover with a lid or cling film and put in the fridge for several hours or overnight. This helps to dissolve the sugar and boost the flavour of the fruits.
Shortcut: If you prefer to cook right away, add the peaches and lemon juice to a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until the fruit slices start to soften. Then add the sugar and continue as described in the next steps.
4) Prep spoon & saucers
Put a few teaspoons and saucers into the freezer. We need these later to check the setting point of the jam.
5) Sterilise the jars
Wash the jars and lids in soapy water and rinse well. To dry, lay the jars and lids on a baking tray and sterilise them in the oven at 100°C (225° F / gas mark 4) for 15 minutes.
6) Cook the peach preserve
Pour the peach-sugar-mixture into a tall saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Once the jam starts bubbling, cook for 4 to 5 minutes and stir constantly. If any sugar remains on the side of the pot, brush it back with a wet pastry brush.
Tip: Wear oven mitts to protect your hands from hot steam and splashes.
7) Test the preserves
To test if the preserve is done cooking, drop a small amount on a cold saucer and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. If a skin forms, which wrinkles when you run your finger trough, it’s perfect. If the mixture still appears to be very runny, cook for another 2 minutes and repeat the test.
Tip: A shorter cooking time will result in a softer preserve (4 min), cooking the fruits longer will make the preserve firmer (6 min +).
8) Add butter
Stir a knob of butter into the peach preserve. This helps to dissolve the foam and to enhance the flavour. Skim and discard any excess foam with a spoon.
9) Jar the preserves
After taking the pot off the heat, let it sit for 15 minutes so the fruits will be evenly distributed in the jars. Using a jam funnel, ladle into the sterilised jars, filling 1 cm (0.5 in) below the rim. Clean the rim with a wet paper towel and screw on the lid.
10) Process the jam
To minimise the risk of bacteria,sterilise the canned peach preserves by processing the jars in boiling water for 20 minutes.
11) Label the peach preserves
After the jars have cooled for several hours, label them and make a note on the label indicating when the jam was prepared.
Storage & Shelf Life
Store the unopened jars in a dark and cool place for up to a year. Once opened, keep the preserve in the fridge and consume within two weeks. Discard the jam if you find any signs of spoilage such as mould or fermentation.
How to print the jam labels
Print the labels on A4 or letter self-adhesive paper or sticker paper. Cut out along the outlines and apply to the lid of the pot or jar.
Free Printable Peach Preserves Labels
Click on the button to download free printable peach jam labels and package your homemade goods!
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