Peach Ginger and Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Last week I went on a jam-making mission to use up all of the fruit my mom has brought me this summer from their ranch in Northern CA. Making jam is no easy task with an infant so I was grateful to have the help of my husband, mom, and good friends for all or part of these adventures.

I once again used Rachel Saunders’ Blue Chair Jam Cookbook as a guide for the two jams. However, for the strawberry jam I decided to add a vanilla bean and only made 1/3 of the recipe because I wanted to freeze some of the strawberries for smoothies this winter.

Strawberry Vanilla Jam (recipe adapted from Rachel Saunders)

  • 1.3 lbs strawberries, hulled
  • 13 ounces sugar
  • 2 ounces fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

Place a saucer with five metal spoons in your freezer for testing the jam later.

Combine berries with the sugar and a little over an ounce of the lemon juice in a pot and allow to macerate for about an hour. Place pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly until mixture begins foaming around the edges. Slowly increase the heat to high.

Boil the mixture vigorously for about 15 minutes, gently scraping the bottom of the pan every minute or two with a rubber spatula to be sure the jam isn’t sticking. Continue to cook until the foam subsides and the mixture starts to look darker and shinier. Stir in remaining lemon juice and stir frequently. Remove from the heat and stop stirring.

To test the jam, put a half spoonful on one of the frozen spoons and return to the freezer for 3-4 minutes. Hold the spoon vertically and watch the consistency of the jam as it begins to fall. If it’s thickened to a gloppy consistency, it’s done. If not, return to the heat for another few minutes and begin the testing process all over again.

Pour the jam into sterilized jars, wipe the rims well before screwing on the lids, and put into a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove and have fun listening to the lids popping!

Peach Ginger Jam (recipe adapted from Rachel Saunders)

  • 6 lbs 5 ounces pitted and halved ripe yellow peaches
  • 3.5 lbs sugar
  • 10 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2.5 – 3 ounces finely chopped candied ginger

Day 1: Cut each peach into six equal wedges. Place the wedges in a large container. Pour the sugar evenly over the fruit, jiggle to help the sugar settle, and drizzle 8 ounces of lemon juice over the mixture. Do not stir. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the mixture so the fruit doesn’t brown. Cover and let macerate in the fridge for 3-6 days.

3-6 Days Later: Place a saucer with five metal spoons in a flat place in your freezer to test the jam later.

Remove the peaches from the fridge and transfer to a pot. Most of the sugar should be dissolved. Stir well. Taste and add more lemon if necessary. You should taste it but it shouldn’t be overpowering.

Stir in the ginger and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently with a large heatproof rubber spatula. Boil, stirring frequently, for 5 mins. Remove from the heat and using a large stainless-steel spoon, skim the stiff foam from the top of the mixture and discard. Mash 2/3 of the fruit with a potato masher. Return to the heat and continue to stir over medium-high heat. Cook until the jam has thickened 25-40 minutes. Test for doneness using the same technique described above.

Posted in Jam

Rhubarb Berry Jam

On a whim this morning, I had the urge to run out and buy some rhubarb to make jam. I found an interesting recipe which is mostly made up of rhubarb with a few extra cups of raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries on David Lebovitz’s website and decided to go for it. Not only is the final product gorgeous in color and texture, it also tastes amazing!


  • 3 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups packed mixed berries (I used 1/2 cup blackberries, 1 cup strawberries, and 1/2 cup raspberries)
  • 1 cup water or apple juice (I used water)
  • 5 1/2 cups sugar
  • juice of one lemon
  • pinch of salt

1. In a large pot, mix the rhubarb, berries, and the water or apple juice. Cook, covered, stirring frequently over moderate heat, until the rhubarb is cooked through and thoroughly tender. It should take about 15 minutes. (I actually mixed the fruit with the sugar and allowed to macerate for 10 minutes before putting over the heat.)


2. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and salt, and cook, uncovered, skimming off and discarding any foam that rises to the surface, until the jam is thick and passes the spoon test.

3. Once done, spoon into clean jars, preserve (or refrigerate once cooled), and enjoy.


Posted in Jam

Peach Butter

It pays to ask for “seconds” at the farmers market. Yesterday, Kim and I met up for lunch and meandering at the Ferry Building. We didn’t get around to shopping until well after the stalls had officially closed. After finding some very bruised peaches, I asked if I could purchase them at a reduced price to make jam. As I learned in Seattle, these are called seconds. 2 points for me!

I had seen a post on Smitten Kitchen for peach butter and was intrigued. I figured I would halve the recipe and check it out for myself. Surprisingly, it doesn’t contain butter and has less sugar than I expected. The sweetness comes from the ripened fruit and tastes wonderful on fresh bread. (Lakshmi, I thought of you while buying some whole wheat walnut bread at Acme yesterday!)

Peach Butter, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

Yield: 4 cups

  • 4 pounds peaches
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • Juice of one lemon

Without a food mill: Cut a small “x” in the bottom of each peach. Dip each into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, and then into a bowl of cold water for a minute. The peels should slide right off. [If you have a food mill, skip the peeling step and continue reading.]

Halve your peaches and remove the pits, then cut each half into quarters (i.e. 8 chunks from each peach). Place peach chunks and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until peaches are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they cook evenly. If you have a food mill, run them through it to puree them and remove the skins. If you don’t have a food mill — i.e. you already peeled your peaches — you can puree in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender. I like my peach butter very smooth, but feel free to leave any amount of texture you prefer.

Return the peaches to the large pot, add the sugar and lemon juice and bring the mixture to a good strong simmer/gentle boil, cooking them at this level for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more often near the end, as it thickens up and the fruit masses risk scorching on the bottom of the pot.

There are several methods to test for doneness: You can drizzle a ribbon of sauce across the surface; when that ribbon holds its shape before dissolve into the pot, it is done. Some people use cold or frozen plates; dollop a spoonful in the middle of one and if no water forms a ring around it in a couple minutes, it is done. Others use a spoon; if the butter remains rounded on a spoon for two minutes, it is done. You can also check the pot itself; the butter is usually done when a wooden spoon leaves a clear train when scraped across the bottom.

Let peach butter cool (unless you’re canning it). If you’re not canning it, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. It should be good for at least two weeks.

Posted in Jam

Blueberry Basil Jam

Another day, another jam. I needed something to do with all of my blueberries so I decided to make a small batch of Blueberry Basil Jam today. I found a good recipe on the Rustic Kitchen website and was done before I knew it. It was only supposed to make a cup of jam but I actually got 2 4-ounce jars and 1 6-ounce jar out of it as well as a nice pour on top of my yogurt. This is a tasty one that would go really well with soft cheese and some crackers or on a thick slice of warm bread.

  • 3 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pour blueberries into a large saucepan over high heat.  Mash with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.  Once they begin to exude juice, stir in sugar.
Boil, stirring occasionally, until your candy thermometer reads 225 degrees.  Test with a cold spoon in the freezer to be sure it is done. Remove the jam from heat, stir in the basil and lemon juice, and transfer to sterile containers.  Store in the refrigerator or preserve as needed.

Raspberry Jam

Yesterday, I found myself near Costco so I decided to stop in to grab some toilet paper and paper towels. Twenty minutes later, I got into my car with a few bottles of red wine and two huge boxes of organic blueberries and raspberries in addition to the things I actually needed. Time to make some jam!

My sister-in-law gave me the Rachel Saunders Blue Chair Jam Cookbook last year for Christmas and I’ve only used it once to make a small batch of rhubarb jam earlier this summer. Today I really broke it in. Spills on crisp white pages only help to establish character!

I opted to try the “Mem’s Red Raspberry Jam” which made 6 6-ounce jars of jam to give away in addition to 2 4-ounce jars for me to keep. The recipe used about 5-6 clams of raspberries. Of course I’m biased because I just spent the last hour or so making it, but it’s fantastic!

  • 2 1/4 pounds red raspberries
  • 3 pounds white cane sugar

1. Place a saucer and five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the jam later. Have ready a medium-mesh strainer or chinois suspended over a heatproof bowl.

2. Combine the berries and sugar in an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide nonreactive pot. Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring and mashing constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the juice begins to run from the berries. As soon as the sugar dissolves, increase the heat to high. (I kept getting splattered here so I put a dishwashing glove on my stirring hand which helped a lot.) Continue to cook, stirring very frequently, until the mixture boils. Boil the mixture vigorously for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Best to begin testing for doneness after 10 minutes.

3. To test for doneness, remove the pan from the heat and carefully transfer a scant half teaspoonful of jam to one of your frozen spoons. Return the spoon to the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment. Tilt the spoon vertically to see whether the jam runs; if the jam does not run, and if it has thickened to a near-jelly consistency, it is done. If the jam runs, return the pan to the stove and cook the mixture for another few minutes, stirring and testing again as many times as needed.

4. Using a stainless-steel spoon, skim any remaining foam from the surface of the preserve. I don’t mind the seeds so I skipped the straining part. If you prefer seedless jam, quickly transfer the jam to the mesh strainer and force as much of the preserve as possible through it by pressing on it with the back of the spoon. Discard the seeds. Skim any foam that lingers on the surface of the strained jam.

5. Pour the jam into sterilized jars and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Or eat as “refrigerator jam” and move into the refrigerator once the jam has cooled to room temperature. It should last a few weeks if you don’t eat it before then.

Sterilization Instructions: Wash jars with hot soapy water (or clean in the dishwasher) and stand them up on a baking sheet along with the same number of unused lids. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees and put the sheet in the oven for at least 30 minutes. Take them out when you are ready to fill the jars. Once filled (leave about 1/2 inch of space from the top and wipe the rim with a damp paper towel), screw the rims on (don’t force it), and put back into the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove and cool on a drying rack for 6-8 hours so that they seal. Consider yourself a pro once you have heard the lids pop!

Posted in Jam