July 14, 2011
“Jam on it.” – Newcleus
I awoke at 4:30am the other morning in a panic – I couldn’t believe I forgot to pick my peaches! The whole family and I were about to leave town, and in our rush to get everything ready, I left my peaches in a lurch. Oh, my peaches! My beloved, amazingly delicious peaches that I had coddled and cared for all year, dormant sprayed and netted, pruned and fed, were ripe and ready to be picked (forgive me but …shit. What a bummer!) So, in the wee hours of the morning before we left town, I leapt out of bed into the dark outdoors to harvest (just call me farmer Val). Thirty minutes and 55 peaches later, with Peet’s French Roast brewing in the pot, I had to think of a quick plan for my fruit.
Jam to the rescue! This was one of those moments in life when I was so glad to have a well-stocked pantry. I mean, the “ghetto” Vons down the street wasn’t even open so early. The first thing I did was get the jam jars in the dishwasher to sterilize. Second, I got started on the jam (I reserved 15 or so peaches to take with us on our trip for a pie and snacking). Then, I made my pie crust, and cut up and froze the rest of the peaches. Done! Ok, so all of that took about 5 hours, and I realize it was a lot of work and a mildly insane undertaking the morning before a big trip, but these were really darn good peaches. Good thing I packed everyone up the night before…not (more swearing).
Mid Pride Peach Jam
I love the flavor and texture of cooked peach skins, so I keep my peaches fully “clothed” when I make pies and jam. Mid Pride Peaches grow beautifully in our Santa Barbara climate. They are moist, fruity and have the best flavor. The only thing is, they don’t break down as quickly as some other peaches I have used. With that in mind, remember to keep an eye on your fruit as it cooks to get the right consistency in your jam.
1 lb. sugar (love my scale!)
Juice of 3 lemons
Wash your peaches. Remove the peach pit by cutting around the middle horizontally and twisting the two sides in opposing directions. Then, pop the pit out of the one side using a spoon (or a very clean fingernail) and slice in 1” slices. Place your fruit in a large pot on the stove with sugar and lemon juice. Bring to boil and simmer over moderate heat, stirring periodically until your peaches are soft and the juice of the jam leaves a thick streak on the back of a spoon.