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By this time of year, our shelves are well-stocked with jam. We’ve been making it all summer: Strawberry, raspberry, blueberry. Rhubarb, cherry, three kinds of plum. We eat plenty of jam–on yogurt and oatmeal, in sandwiches, with fancy cheese–and still, we will make it through the winter. We have plenty of jam.
But it’s hard to stop. And really, can there be too much jam? Extra jars make welcome gifts, and I never seem to find myself with much left over when summer rolls around again.So I was happy to spend a day in the kitchen with a box of organic peaches last week. They arrived on my doorstep courtesy of the Washington State Fruit Commission (full dislosure: the peaches were given to me at no charge, but the opinion that peaches are great is entirely my own). We ate one after another after another. And then it was time to make more jam.
I asked you for your peach preserving ideas. I browsed the Sweet Preservation website. I flipped through Mes Confitures. I couldn’t decide. So I made some of everything. I made a sweet, chunky peach jam with a vanilla bean scraped in. I made a tangy peach chutney with a lot of grated fresh ginger. And, at Hannah’s suggestion, I made this Saffron Peach Jam.
It’s based on a recipe from The Preservation Kitchen, but it’s a good deal sweeter than the version in the book. Some people say that saffron tastes spicy, or purfumey, or that it tastes like the sea. Here it simply provides an earthy, savory counterpoint to the sweetness of the peaches, subtle enough that my six year old loved the jam but intriguing enough that I have gone about my days plotting uses for it. I’m going to spoon it onto rice pudding and ricotta-topped toast. I’m going to layer it into my next frittata sandwich in place of the tomato jam. I’m going to serve it on a cheese plate. But meanwhile, it’s just been going straight on toast.
There are a couple of things to consider in advance here. First, you cook the fruit with sugar and saffron and then allow it to macerate overnight–so plan accordingly. Second, the recipe calls for cooking halved peaches and sending them through a food mill later to remove the skins. If you don’t have a food mill, I think you’ll be fine simply starting with peeled, chopped peaches and skipping the food mill step later on. (If you prefer a thicker, more uniform texture than you get from chopped peaches, you can puree some or all of the jam in a blender.)
Saffron Peach Jam (adapted from The Preservation Kitchen): Halve 4 1/2 lbs. peaches (8-9 large) and remove the pits. Place peaches in a large, heavy-bottomed pot with 5 1/2 c. sugar, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, and 1 1/2 grams saffron (about a well-packed Tbsp.). Bring to a boil and stir until the peaches release their juice (10-15 minutes). Remove from heat, transfer to a covered storage container, and refrigerate overnight.
Run the peaches and their juice through the coarse disc of a food mill, returning the resulting pulp to your large, heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil and continue to cook at a low boil for 15 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture thickens somewhat. Fill sterilized jars and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
Disclosure: I received a box of peaches at no charge from the Washington State Fruit Commission as part of their “Canbassador” program. I was not compensated for writing this post. You can learn more about canning and find many more recipes on the Washington State Fruit Commission’s Sweet Preservation website. And aren’t these jar labels cute?