Justin Bieber may get his peaches down in Georgia, but I grab mine from the local farmers market.
Also, I happen to live in a state that grazes up against both South Carolina and Georgia, which means I’m lucky enough to be able to get my hands on some of the best peaches this coastal area has to offer. Not making your own homemade peach jam is actually considered kind of a crime around here.
That, and not getting a basket of complimentary hushpuppies with every meal…
From their deep orange flesh and blushing skins to their aromatic, sugary flavor, peaches have always made my list of go-to summer treats.
Residing in the southeast for nearly all of my life also means I’m well-versed in hundred-plus-degree weather, so sweet, refreshing snacks are a must during the “warmer” months.
Other than that one time when I accidentally stepped on a bumblebee at the neighborhood clubhouse, every summertime occasion that included a cannonball into brisk, chlorine-scented water was filled with wonderful and delicious memories for me.
Each weekend, my parents would pack our (now-considered retro) Playmate cooler – complete with trademark side buttons and tent-top design – with every item needed to survive for several hours at the pool down the street.
To name a few of these delectable items: tin foil-wrapped rice cakes glued together with fluffy peanut butter and drippy honey, Hawaiian Punch juice boxes, salty wheat crackers, personal-size bottles of tangy Sunny Delight, and some variety of stone fruit fresh out of the fridge and deliberately cloaked in damp, chilled paper towels.
Not to overwhelm you with LL Cool J vibes here or anything, but tell me you can’t practically feel the sticky juice of a cold peach dripping down your chin after a massive chomp into the fruit. I’d be lying if I said that these flashbacks aren’t literally producing puddles of drool on my laptop as we speak.
I find there’s no better way to preserve these summery reflections than by, well, actually preserving them. In the form of jam.
Speaking of, if you’ve ever found yourself pondering the differences between jams, jellies, and preserves, look to this article for answers.
Once you make your way through the canning process from start to finish, the method will be burned into your brain. Other than a couple of mason jars, some ripe peaches, sugar, lemon juice, and pectin, all you need for making this luscious spread is some good tunes flowing through your portable speakers in the kitchen.
It also doesn’t hurt to have a few trusty vehicles on deck for landing this tasty spread when it’s ready to enjoy. I reach for super easy no-knead oat bread, slice and bake gluten-free basil shortbread cookies, and homemade cinnamon swirl bread.
This peach spread is impeccable as-is, but if I had to give you one fancy enhancement suggestion, it would be splashing in a few drops of vanilla extract. The woody aroma perks up your senses and makes the flavor a bit more complex.
But the possibilities for tinkering are endless, and any and all warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg will give it a boost, and offer your taste buds a tickle.
Homemade peach jam, or liquid gold? You decide. Just leave Justin Bieber out of it.Print
This luscious homemade peach jam – simply flavored with sugar, lemon, and fresh, juicy fruit – is a sweet and summery mouthful you’ll love.
- 3 pounds fresh ripe peaches (about 4–5 large)
- 1 package dry powdered pectin (approximately 1.75 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 5 cups granulated sugar
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and prepare a bowl of ice water nearby.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, carefully drop the peaches into the water, and blanch for 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove the peaches from the pot and transfer to the ice bath. Drain the pot, and set it aside off the heat.
- Once the fruit has cooled enough to handle it, use a paring knife to make a small incision in the skin of each peach and then gently peel the skins off. Remove any blemished portions from the fruit. Pit and roughly chop the peaches.
- Place them into a food processor, and pulse until the flesh is mostly broken down. Transfer them back into the large pot.
- Bring the peaches to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pectin, lemon juice, and sugar and stir well to combine. Continuing to stir constantly, bring the jam to a full rolling boil for exactly 1 minute. Remove the pot from heat. Skim the foam off the top using a wide, shallow ladle or spoon.
- Heat a large pot of water over medium heat to sterilize the jars. Carefully submerge the empty jars (without the lids and rings) right side up into the pot, making sure the water is about 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a boil, and continue to boil the jars for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, but don’t drain it – you can use the same water to process the filled jam jars.
- Ladle the jam into the sterile canning jars, leaving about 1/4 inch of room at the top. Tightly screw on the lids, and process the jars in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
- Remove the jars from the pot (making sure that the lids have popped) and set them aside to cool completely before storing or refrigerating.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Jam
- Method: Stovetop, Canning
- Cuisine: Condiments
Keywords: peach, jam, fruit spread
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Blanch the Peaches
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and prepare a large bowl of ice water nearby.
Reduce the heat to simmer, carefully drop the peaches into the water, and cook for 30 seconds.
Blanching them in this way will help to remove the peels, with the same process that you might use for peeling almonds. You may see some of the skins already starting to peel away from the flesh.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the peaches from the pot and transfer them to the ice bath to shock them, and stop the cooking process.
Drain the water from the pot, and set it aside off the heat nearby, to use for cooking the ingredients.
Step 2 – Peel, Pit, and Chop
Once the fruit has cooled enough to handle it, use a paring knife to make a small incision in the skin of each peach at the base, opposite the stem, and then gently peel back and remove the peels.
Remove any blemished portions from the fruit by slicing them off and discarding them.
Starting at the stem, run a knife vertically around the outside of each peach. Carefully twist and pull the sides apart from one another, and remove the pits.
Roughly chop the peaches, and place them into a food processor.
Step 3 – Puree the Fruit and Boil
Pulse until the flesh is mostly broken down, and then transfer the puree back into the large pot.
Bring the peaches to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pectin, lemon juice, and sugar, and stir well.
Continuing to stir constantly, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil for exactly 1 minute. You can test the jam to make sure it’s done with a candy thermometer. The temperature should read at least 220°F.
To test for doneness without a thermometer, you can also watch how it drips off of a spatula. If it’s thin and runny, it needs more time. If it forms thick droplets that hang off the spatula, it’s likely done or almost done.
You can also use the “freezer test” where you place a spoonful of the jam on a plate that’s been in the freezer for about 15 minutes (take the pot off heat if you didn’t put a plate in the freezer beforehand).
Put the plate with the jam back in the freezer for several minutes, and then gently push the jam with the tip of your finger. If a skin has formed on top that wrinkles when nudged, it’s done. If it’s still liquidy and your finger goes right through the spread, it needs more time on the stove.
Step 4 – Skim the Foam and Sanitize the Jars
Remove the pot from the heat, and skim the foam off the top of the mixture using a wide, shallow utensil.
You can use wax paper to help with skimming. Press the paper onto the surface of the jam and quickly lift it off. Any foam traces will be left around the edges of the pot, which you can them easily skim off with a spoon.
Skipping skimming off the foam will result in a cloudier final product, but you can also use this method instead:
After boiling the jam (but before placing it in the jars), take the pot off the heat and stir for 5 minutes. This will reduce the foam and help the fruit pieces to disperse evenly into the mixture.
I sanitize my jars at this point so the jam can cool down a bit (lessening the chances of boiling hot splatters as I’m ladling it into jars), but you can sanitize your jars as early in the process as you like. There’s no need to process the lids or rings.
To sanitize your jars, fill a large pot with water and place it over medium heat. Check your jars for any nicks or cracks. Carefully submerge the empty jars right side up into the pot, making sure the water is about 1 inch above the tops of the jars.
Bring the water to a boil, and continue to boil the jars for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, but don’t drain it – you’ll use the same water to process the filled jam jars.
The jars can stay in the hot water for up to 1 hour, to keep them clean so they don’t collect dirt or debris if they’re sitting out after they’ve been sterilized. Remove the jars using jar lifters or tongs, drain any water that’s in them back into the pot, and set them aside to dry on a clean and sanitized surface.
Step 4 – Fill and Process the Jars
Ladle the jam into the sterilized canning jars, leaving about 1/4 inch of headspace at the top.
Bring the large pot of water back to a boil. Tightly screw on the lids, and process the jars in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the jars from the pot, making sure that the lids have popped, and set them aside to cool.
If any of the lids fail to seal, you can reprocess the jar. Check the jar’s surface to see if any damage or cracking happened during processing. If that’s the case, sterilize a new jar, transfer in the jam, screw on a new lid (just to be safe), and reprocess.
If you don’t see anything wrong with the jar and the lid doesn’t seal after reprocessing, refrigerate and eat the contents of that jar within a week.
The jam can be stored in a cool, dry place like a pantry for up to 2 years. Once opened, the jam will need to be refrigerated. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Baby, You’re My Summer Jam
Homemade jam is a cinch to prepare, simplicity at its finest, but I find that the fun is in what you do with it after the jars are sealed.
Peaches are one of those especially succulent fruits, so including some jam on a charcuterie board loaded with sharp, nutty, aged cheeses and salty meats provides a stellar contrast of flavor.
Stuff it in French toast or spoon it over a healthy yogurt and granola bowl for breakfast.
My favorite trick is whisking it into a savory finishing sauce to drizzle over pork, chicken, or fish. It’ll brighten up the protein, and the faces of your dinner guests.
For more fruity condiments you can bring front and center on your table, give these jams a go next:
Straight out of the jar with a spoon, or painted on a nearby pastry? How will you enjoy this peach jam?
Share your sweet suggestions in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published August 23, 2014. Last updated on September 22, 2021.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”