Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Peach Lavender Jam

Last summer, I got really excited about canning. I remember watching my mom do it when I was little and talking to her about it as I got older, so I thought it was time to do it myself. I had picked up a couple of books at Title Wave, where I volunteer, bought a canning pot and the rest of the canning accoutrements, and headed off to the farmers market. And I made jam. Two kinds. And totally forgot to blog about it!
I realized this (again) the other day after going through most of a jar of the peach lavender. It is so good, I want to eat it on everything and I want to share it with you.

Before diving into the recipe, you need to get yourself a canning book. I really like The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving, which is where I got this recipe, but there are other great ones out there (like this one by Ashley English, which Renai loves, and this one by Ball, because they know canning). I really like mine because of the step by step instructions and timing reminders for while you work and it's meant for smaller recipes, which is awesome since I don't have a ton of space. Plus the flavor combos look unusual and fun. Canning is an amazing way to keep the flavors of produce at their peak all year round, but it needs to be done safely and with careful reading, you'll be able to get the basics and then do any recipe you find. There is a lot to canning, but it's not ridiculously difficult, there's just stuff that has to be done a certain way, like not swapping out powdered for liquid pectin. Read. Be informed. Then can. When peaches are back in season, make this. It's ridiculous and you'll want to put it on everything too. 

Peach Lavender Jam from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving:

Makes 6 cups (1.5 liters or in my case, four jars)

2 Tb. dried lavender flowers
½ c. boiling water
4 c. finely chopped peaches (about 5-6 medium peaches)
2 Tb. lemon juice
6 c. granulated sugar
1 pouch liquid fruit pectin

Place lavender flowers in a small bowl. Pour boiler water over flowers and steep for 20 minutes. It turns into a beautiful purple color. Strain and discard flowers. During this time is probably a good spot to get your jars ready for canning, but make sure you follow the directions of your book!
Combine lavender liquid, peaches, lemon juice, and sugar in a very large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a full boil over high heat and boil hard for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in pectin.
Ladle into hot jars and process for 10 minutes, which you will know how to do when you read your canning book. When the processing is finished, turn off the heat and remove lid from canner. Allow jars to remain in the water for 5 minutes to stabilize the pressure inside the jars, then remove from canner. Use a jar lifter, which is so awkward to use and may involve in some almost lost jam, if you're like me. Be sure not to tilt the jar to prevent the contents from running under the lid. Transfer the jars to a wooden cutting boar or a surface covered with several layers of towels or newspaper. Do not place jars on a cold hard surface or they make break. 

Do not dry jars or tighten seals. Any water on top of the jars will evaporate during the cooling period. Let the jars cool, undisturbed, for 12-24 hours. Then check the seal. It is easy to tell if the jars are sealed as the metal lids curve downwards. you can refrigerate any jars that are not sealed and use the contents for up to three weeks. Remove the screw bands (my mom also recommended this as you can see better if something starts to grow on your jar), dry them, and store separately.
After all of that, guess what? You have kick ass jam! The lavender plays so well with the peach, giving you an herb-fruit one-two punch. If you haven't been into lavender as a flavor before, I think this jam will change your mind. I love it on toast with cream cheese, or just toast, or just everything. I mixed some in with some cottage cheese the other day and that rocked too. I'm seriously convinced there's nothing this jam can't do. Give it a try. I think you'll be surprised at just how awesome it is.

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