This marks our second year for making jam. It takes time. It takes equipment. It sometimes doesn’t work out the way you expected. Pricewise, it’s probably about the same as buying a jar of jam at the grocery store.
So why do it?
Part of it is nostalgia. Our grandmothers always had jams and jellies which they made from scratch in their cupboard. It’s reliving a part of our childhood.
Another reason is the Farm to Table concept. By buying from the farmer, we are putting money into their pocket – no middleman. As a small business person myself, I like to turn my money around and give it back to others who are small businesses. This is my personal preference when I can (and often I can’t because of the thing I want has to be manufactured or produced elsewhere).
Most times the produce prices are no cheaper then the grocery store, but the product is usually 100% better because it is fresher. No traveling in a truck for months; no sitting in a warehouse until it “ripens” enough to be shipped to a store; no moldy strawberries because they kept watering the produce trying to keep it hydrated during it’s road trip and in the store.
For example, the fresh corn we bought last weekend at the Farmer’s produce stand was melt in your mouth delicious with huge kernels versus corn at the grocery store which was puny in flavor.
Price isn’t always the reason for doing things – quality and where you spend your money is also equally important to me and our family.
We grabbed some fresh peaches from Porter and with one of the overripe 1/2 pecks ($6) we made Peach Jam. These were over ripe, which I wouldn’t choose if you want to freeze peaches for eating but for making this jam, which we prepped the same day, it went great.
First, we blanched the peaches which goes pretty quickly. Blanching keeps the color of your peaches so personally, I would go the extra step. Just prepare your ice bath while waiting for the water to boil but before you put peaches into the water. After blanching, we did trim off the overly ripe areas 😉
We adapted our Peach Jam from this recipe. I used 20 small/medium overripe peaches (1/2 peck) which made about 14 cups peeled and diced. How much produced is going to be determined by the sizes of your peaches.
- 3 cups sugar
- 4 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
The “Jell point” for this recipe was 220 degrees but like many of the other reviews on that recipe, our jam did not set. We boiled for 1-1/2 hours and it never got over 115 so we added 1/2 cup pectin + 1/4 cup sugar and boiled for 1 min more, then jarred it and processed in a hot water bath for 5 mins.
We ended up making 7 cups (7 jars); two of which are set back for Christmas gifts.
We always do a hot water bath for our canning jars. It’s not difficult once you get the right equipment. If you have an Atwoods near you, that is where we bought our Canning equipment – they also sell individual lids to replace your old ones (lids cannot be reused as the seal is never the same). You can also buy this equipment from Amazon or sometimes Target or Wal-mart if you catch them at the right time in the summer.
Once you get the system down it really isn’t as difficult as you might think. It does though take time as this was a half day project. If you still feel uncertain about how to can, check out Youtube for videos or attend a local canning class (see your Home Extension Office for details).