Friday, June 25, 2010
Sometimes, it only takes half an hour for magic to happen in the kitchen. It took only half an hour for these gorgeous, but sadly hum-drum tasting peaches to be transformed into the multi-layered, golden deliciousness of peach jam. If I hadn't prepared it myself, I would not have believed that such a transformation was possible, aided only by some lemon juice, sugar and a few drops of vanilla and almond extracts - but indeed, it happened, and I'm here to tell you that I've found the answer to all that sad, tasteless fruit that all of us come across but feel too guilty to throw away.
I have to admit that real jam-making isn't (yet) for me. The thought of buying up large quantities of fruit, simmering it in a large pot (which must feel a bit like a Macbeth witch, I'm imagining) and then *shudder* sterilizing the cans properly just really freaks me out. This, however - this is easy peasy. Let's say that, like me, the peaches you bought aren't all that you thought they would be. Or you found some strawberries in the back of the refrigerator that look like they've seen better days. You just take this neglected fruit, add some lemon juice, sugar and some extracts, simmer a bit on the stove and watch the magic happen. I promise you, it's a darn good show.
Small Batch Peach Jam
Adapted from David Leite
4-5 cups of thinly sliced peaches or other fruit
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar, depending on how sweet the fruit is
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Slice peaches thinly and, in a large bowl, combine with lemon juice, sugar and extracts. Stir to dissolve sugar and leave in the refrigerator to macerate overnight [I left mine in there for an hour].
Drain out all the juices into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Add half the fruit, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the juices are just thickened.
Cool it down for 10 minutes, then transfer to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
Transfer back to the pan and add the rest of the fruit. Bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for another 15-20 minutes. To test if the jam is ready, drop a heaping teaspoonful onto a plate and slightly tilt the plate. The jam should not run off, but cling and slowly glide down. If the jam isn’t ready, put it back on the heat for a while.
Spoon the jam into small jars and refrigerate or spoon into resealable plastic containers and freeze. You need to keep it in the fridge and use it up fairly quickly [but I guarantee that this will not be a problem - it's DELICIOUS].