Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Canning is Cool Again: Peach Jalapeno Bourbon Jam

Canning is cool again. At work, we have just about run out of canning supplies. I think there are just two jar lifters lurking on the shelf, and most of the jars are gone. Canning is cool again, really. Not just because Marisa McClellan's new book Food in Jars is out, but even Rachael Ray has given over a two-page spread in her July - August 2012 issue of her magazine to canning. I hate to admit it, but I think my canning pot and rack are older than either of them are. They came used, from a yard sale in about 1982, and have been dragged out each spring with the first good berries ever since. I even have gone so far as to need and use a pressure canner, too. Seems like everything comes in cycles, and canning is back.

If you garden, you'll likely have to start canning once the freezer is full. That's how I started. We bought our first home with enough room for a decent garden at the side, and suddenly there were beans and tomatoes. Lots of beans and tomatoes. No one on either Hub's side of the family or mine ever canned anything, so armed with a copy of a Ball Blue Book, and another book called "Putting Food By", I dove in. Made plenty of messes, got a few splatter burns, but turned out lots of good food in jars. I wrote copy in an ad agency in those days, and the owner's wife, Josie Renner, shared her bread and butter pickle recipe and a lot of old-fashioned canning tips with me back then. While Josie Renner is long gone, I like to think that she knows how much her pickles are still loved 30 years later. I was lucky to find a good canning mentor. Now you can Google excellent canning instructions, though it isn't the same as having a real person to help you.

This year, everyone seems to be making strawberry jam, a worthy endeavor indeed, but around here, strawberries are just about kaput for the local season. The peach season is coming up fast, though, and if your garden is at all like mine, just about the only crop with NO insect or animal munching on it is hot peppers. This jam is a triple delight; sweet, spicy and just a bit boozy. It's also quick to make, and if you are just starting out as a home-canner, it'll make you look like a real pro. The only down side is that everyone will love it so much, they'll expect it every year, so be sure to stash a jar or two for yourself.

Peach Jalapeno Bourbon Jam

Peach Jalapeno Bourbon Jam

Notes: Leave out the pepper seeds for a less hot end result, for even less heat cut back to two peppers without seeds. Some of the technique and most the proportions here are straight off the pectin package; don’t fool around with that or your jam won’t set up properly. Fiddle with it and you’ll end up with Peach Jalapeno Bourbon Syrup, not Jam. Ask me how I’ve learned this. Ahem.

If you don’t have a food processor, coarsely hand-chop your peaches and peppers, cook with everything except the pectin until soft, and run through a food mill fitted with the medium disc. Then bring back to a hard boil and add the pectin and proceed as in step 4. Won’t be as “purty” but it’ll taste swell.

Two canning tools that will make your life easier: A water bath canning pot and a set of canning tools.

Makes 8 half-pints and a taster jar. Nice with creamy cheese on a slab of homemade bread, or on a bland turkey sandwich, lol.

  • 3 1/2 pounds ripe peaches, blanched and skinned
  • 7 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup good quality bourbon
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 whole red jalapeno peppers
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • One half (6-ounce) package liquid pectin (one foil packet)
  1. Place six half-pint jars on a rack in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the jars, and boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and allow the jars to rest in the hot water. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, and slide in the bands and flat tops. Turn off the heat and let stand until ready to use. Bring an extra medium pot to a low boil and keep simmering.
  2. Pit and coarsely chop the peaches. Place in a food processor and pulse just until just short of a puree.
  3.  Cut the stems off the jalapenos, remove the seeds if you want milder jam, and then chop roughly in the food processor. You want 1/8” pieces.
  4. Tie the cinnamon stick and the cloves together in a single layer of cheesecloth. Add everything except the pectin to a big, heavy pot, and cook the mixture until the peaches are soft. Bring the peach mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring. Add the pectin, and return the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for one minute. Remove the pot from the heat and skim any foam from the surface with a metal spoon. Discard the cinnamon and cloves in their cheesecloth wrap.
  5. Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims of the jars with a damp paper towel, cover with the lids and screw bands, and gently tighten by hand. Place the jars on the rack in the large pot and cover completely with water from the medium pot you’ve had on simmer. Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Start timing when the water boils hard. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the jars rest in the hot water for 5 minutes. Remove the jars from pot with a jar lifter or canning tongs and allow them to rest undisturbed on countertop for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Processed jam will keep for about one year in a cool, dark place. Unprocessed jam will keep in the refrigerator for about six months.

No comments:

Post a Comment