Memories of Summer in Every Jar of Peach Jam

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“By all these lovely tokens September days are here, With summer’s best of weather And autumn’s best of cheer.” ~ Helen Hunt Jackson

Every year we make up a batch of jams and preserves so that we can capture the taste of summer in a jar. When we taste the sweet peach jam on toast, even in the dead of winter, we remember the fresh, juicy peaches of summer. We remember sunny days and lazy afternoons. We remember picnics in the park, sailboats dancing across the water, and children playing in the yard. Each bite brings back a moment that we will not forget.

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This was my first year making Peach Jam. The Niagara peaches are so full of flavour and when they are in season, I cannot get enough of them.

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I found this recipe in the Canadian Living Test Kitchen book called The Complete Preserving Book. It is an excellent source of information for those who are new to jam making and preserving since it contains sections on canning basics, equipment and techniques.

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When I took a bite of the fresh-baked scone covered in peach jam, I just smiled and remembered. So long summer… till we meet again.

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“One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Peach Jam

Makes about 5-6 1 cup jars

Ingredients:

6 cups sliced and peeled fresh peaches
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 package light fruit pectin crystals (49 g)
3 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Directions:

In a large Dutch oven and using a potato masher, crush peaches. Measure 4 cups of fruit.

Add lemon juice. Mix pectin with 1/4 cup of the sugar, stir into the peaches. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often.

Add remaining sugar, return to full rolling boil. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Remove from heat and skim off foam.

Fill hot 1-cup (250 ml) canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch (5 mm) head space. Cover with prepared discs. Screw on bands until resistance is met, increase to fingertip tight.

Boil jars in the canner for 10 minutes.

Turn of heat. Uncover and let jars stand in the canner for 5 minutes. Remove jars from the canner and transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours.

Recipe from-The Complete Preserving Book-by the Canadian Living Test Kitchen

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Preserving the Taste of Summer in Mixed Berry Jam

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What are your favourite flavours of summer?

My favourites are:

the taste of a ripe tomato, fresh off of the vine;
grilled corn on the cob,
peaches and nectarines on the day that they are just ripe enough to be sweet, but not too ripe,
fresh salads filled with seasonal fruits and nuts,
watermelon,
fresh lemonade,
grilled chicken,
and most of all
fresh berries

When the season starts to change I will miss those summer treats.

One way that our ancestors were able to stretch their fresh fruits was to preserve the taste into jars of jams and jellies. You can open a jar in the dead of winter and still taste the wonderful fruit like it was the day you canned it.

I have wonderful memories of homemade jams from my childhood; memories of an older aunt who loved to cook. I remember her making luscious fruit jams and spicy chili sauce every summer. She was very generous with her cooking. We had a large family for which she would whip up sensational meals because she loved feeding a crowd. I miss her.

Everyone has a childhood memory or two that is related to food. We remember those wonderful days when we taste the dishes that our mothers, grandmothers, aunts or uncles used to make.

For me, making jam is like making a jar of memories.

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Mixed Berry Jam

Makes approximately 9 -500 ml or 1 cup jars

Ingredients:

9 cups mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, mulberries)
1/3 cup lemon juice
4 1/3 cups sugar, warmed
1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. pectin

Directions:

Remove stems, stalks, leaves and any blemishes from the berries. If the berries are sandy or gritty, wash then gently under cold water. Be sure to drain them well in a colander.

Place the berries and lemon juice in a large pot and gently cook for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and stir over low heat for 5 minutes, or until all sugar has dissolved.

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Boil for 15 minutes stirring often. Remove from heat.

Add the pectin and return to the heat. Boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Remove any scum from the surface with a spoon or ladle.

Pour immediately into clean, warm jars leaving ¾ inch headroom, and seal. Turn jars upside down for 2 minutes, then invert and let cool. Label the jars with the name of the jam and the date. Store the jars in a cool dark place for 6-12 months. Refrigerate after opening for up to 6 weeks.

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Recipe adapted from Jams and Preserves by Thunder Bay Press.