Musical pairing – Black Horse And The Cherry Tree by KT Tunstall
I could tell you that I’ve made both cooked jam and freezer jam . . . I could also tell you that I prefer freezer jam because somehow, it tastes fresher (at least to moi) . . . or I can tell you that I’ve had a change of heart towards cooked jams . . . or maybe a change of tastebuds, I’m not sure. But what I will tell you is that this recipe right here . . . this White Cherry & Peach Jam . . . rocked my world . . . oh yes it did . . .
The heavens opened and the stars lined up when I came across this recipe last fall and in that one kismet moment, I knew I’d found jam nirvana. I could hardly contain myself until spring when I knew I’d be ordering the book; since its arrival, the book has spent the last month on the kitchen table . . . open . . . I’ve flipped through the pages at least every other day, giddy with excitement over the combinations of fruits and/or herbs.
When I think back on my days at the little house on Ankeny street, I vaguely remember my mother making cooked jam that was sealed in jars with paraffin – strawberry I think . . . and maybe some grape jelly. I also remember being fascinated by that thick layer of paraffin and how you took a butter knife around the edge of the jar to break the seal . . . sometimes, at the very last minute, that chunk of paraffin would flip . . . right onto the front of your jammies, rolling all the way down to the floor leaving a trail of strawberry evidence behind. And how sometimes, little teeny bits of paraffin would be left on the very top of the jam to be scraped off with the edge of a spoon or the tines of a fork.
My auntie Velma (who doesn’t like her name and always wanted to be called auntie Toni . . . but that’s another story for another time . . .) taught me how to make freezer jams when I was a teenager – minimally cooked and placed into freezer-safe containers, then stored in said freezer for the winter; and for the longest time, these were my favorite kinds of jams to make. It was quite exciting – having all that wonderful sugary goodness stored in the house. There was something comforting about knowing rows of jam were lined up on shelves in the basement . . . waiting to be ushered into the kitchen and made into sandwiches, spread on morning toast, swirled into oatmeal or drizzled over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
This Peach & White Cherry Jam is one of those combos where you say to yourself, ‘why didn’t I think of that?!’ Make sure you purchase the freshest peaches and cherries you can get your hands on and don’t substitute vanilla extract for vanilla bean – that one-inch piece brings the entire jam together in a glorious symphony! The color is a sight to behold and the taste is nothing short of sublime . . . I think it would be perfect layered between slices of pound cake or drizzled over ice cream . . . but I will tell you this: the jam is simply glorious on a slice of morning toast or fluffy sky-high biscuit!
WHITE CHERRY & PEACH JAM
Blue Chair Jam Book
Makes 6, 8-ounce Jars
- 2-1/2 pounds peeled yellow peaches
- 2-1/2 pounds pitted Rainier or other white cherries
- 2 pounds 2 ounces white cane sugar
- 5 ounces strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Several drops of pure almond extract
- Several drops of maraschino liqueur*
- 1 (1-inch) piece vanilla bean, split
- Place a saucer with five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the jam later; this is one of the best methods for determining the perfect jam consistency so don’t skip this step!
- Place a cutting board on a rimmed baking sheet or sheet pan. Put the peaches on the board and using a paring knife, cut enough flesh off the pits to make 2 pounds of prepared fruit. You should end up with pieces of all different shapes and sizes. When you are finished, discard the peach pits.
- Place the peach pieces and their collected juices from the baking sheet with the cherries, sugar and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl, stirring well to combine. Add a few drops each of almond extract and maraschino. Taste, add a drop or two more of the flavorings if necessary and add the vanilla bean. Transfer the mixture to an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide nonreactive kettle.
- Place the jam mixture over high heat and bring it to a boil, stirring every couple of minutes or so. Continue to cook, monitoring the heat closely, until the jam thickens, 25 to 30 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pan often with your spatula and decrease the heat gradually as more and more moisture cooks out of the jam. For the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking, stir the jam slowly and steadily to keep it from scorching. Skim any still foam from the surface of the jam as it cooks and discard.
- When the jam has thickened and appears glossy, test it for doneness. To test, carefully transfer a small representative half-spoonful of jam to one of your frozen spoons. Replace the spoon in 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 how quickly the jam runs; if it is reluctant to run and if it has thickened to a gloppy consistency, it is done. If it runs very quickly or appears watery, cook it for another few minutes, stirring and test again as needed. While you are waiting for the jam in the freezer to cool, skim off any white foam that appears on the surface of the jam in the pan.
- When the jam is ready, pour it into sterilized jars and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
*NOTE: This is NOT the liquid from a jar of maraschino cherries, it is a liqueur; a little spendy and since I had not made this recipe before, I omitted it and added a few extra drops of pure vanilla extract – the jam is still fantastic!!