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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Holiday Gifts from my Kitchen-Port Wine Jelly

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We are rushing about getting ready for the holidays. I have been shopping and wrapping, baking and planning, decorating and sorting. Through all of the rushing around I have started to feel the excitement of the season. People around me are in a festive, giving mood. Holiday lights are twinkling in the night sky and memories of Christmases past are rushing through my head.

Every year around this time I have great intentions of making some homemade gifts for family and friends. It seems so much more meaningful to receive something that has been made especially for you. This holiday I have made a few things including this sumptuous jelly.

I started early and made some of my sister’s Port Wine Jelly. Whenever I have been fortunate enough to receive a jar of this jelly from my sister, I have treated it like a special treasure. It has a rich dark flavour that works so well with cheese tray or meat. Everyone in my family loves it, so it disappears quickly.

I asked my sister to share her secret to making such a wonderful product and she said to be sure that you use a good quality port. That sounded pretty easy to me, so I set out for my local liquor store and found some Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage port. I am happy to say that the results are exactly as I had hoped.

I cannot wait to share these little jars of rich, dark, ruby-red jelly with my family and friends this holiday!

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Port Wine Jelly

Makes 8 -8 oz. jelly jars

Ingredients:

4 cups port wine (use a good quality port for best results)
6 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
12 oz. liquid fruit pectin

Directions:

Sterilize 8 jars, rings and lids by placing them in a large saucepan. Fill with water up to a minimum of 2 inches above the jars, and boil for 10 minutes. Leave in the hot water until you are ready to fill them.

In the top of a double boiler combine port, sugar cinnamon and cloves. Place over rapidly boiling water and heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour port mixture into a pot and over direct heat continue to heat. Add the pectin and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Skim off any foam that has risen to the surface.

Ladle jelly into the sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch of room at the top. Put the lids and rings on the jars and place the jars in the sterilizing pot making sure that they are covered with water. Boil for 10 minutes.

Remove the jars from the pot with jar tongs and let cool on a wire rack. The tops will pop as they seal after the heat bath.

Label the jars and store in a cool, dark place until ready to open. Refrigerate, after opening.