Monday, August 28, 2017

Pectin-Free Peach Jam Tutorial


Mr. Handsome and I are celebrating the new week with our fresh batch of homemade peach jam (on homemade bread, of course). Would you like to celebrate with us?

This year, we were so busy with moving and our trip to Canada that we hardly had time to eat any peaches. How sad is that?

Well, just last week, my in-laws got their hands on a few bushels and graciously shared some with us. Last year, I canned peaches (click here to view my tutorial), so this year I decided to do something a bit different...homemade preach preserves. (We ate about two dozen fresh peaches before canning the rest.) My recipe follows the old-fashioned method that does not require pectin.

Homemade Peach Preserves (Without Pectin)

10 cups diced peaches (skin and pits removed)*
3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Pint or half-pint jars

*As a general rule of thumb: 1 pound of fresh peaches=3-4 medium peaches=approximately 2 cups sliced peaches

Step 1: Put a large pot of water on the stove to simmer. This will be your water bath for canning, so make sure the pot is large enough to allow the cans to be completely immersed, with 2 inches of water above the lids.

Add as many jars, lids, and rims as will fit in the pot at one time (with jars standing up). I added four. In order to fully sanitize, make sure the water is simmering for 15 minutes. When finished sanitizing, turn off burner, but leave jars in hot water until ready to use. Side note: For extra sanitation, I run jars and rims (not lids) through the dishwasher before placing in simmering water bath.

Here is a note from the Ball/Kerr website on sanitizing your canning lids: "Our Quality Assurance Team performed comprehensive testing to determine the need for pre-heating lids. Ultimately, we determined that it’s completely safe to skip pre-warming lids in the canning process. While it’s still safe to simmer your lids before use, you should never boil them. Our recommendation for over 40 years has always been to simmer (180°F) - not boil (212°F) - the lids."

Step 2: Load your peaches into the sink, and rinse.

Step 3: Fill a medium-sized pot with water, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium, add several peaches, and cook for 1 minute. If the water begins to boil, turn the heat down. Meanwhile, prepare a medium-sized bowl of ice water.

Step 4: After peaches have been in the hot water for 1 minute, transfer peaches to ice water for 1 minute and 30 seconds.

Step 5: Remove peaches from ice water, and gently remove skin with your hands. If your peaches are well-ripened, the skin should come off easily. If it doesn't, let peaches soak in the hot water bath for another 30 seconds and then in the ice water for another minute.

Step 6: Dice peaches (removing pits), and add to a large mixing bowl. Per 10 cups of diced peaches, add 3 cups granulated sugar and 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice. Mix well with a wooden spoon. If time allows, cover the bowl of peaches, and leave it to sit at room temperature for an hour to enhance the flavor. If time does not allow, continue to the next step.

Step 7: Transfer peach mixture to a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Use the back of the wooden spoon to mash peaches against the side of the pan as they cook.

When peaches start to boil, begin stirring constantly. Continue stirring over medium heat until peaches cook down and reach jam consistency (25-50 minutes). To determine if jam is ready, place a small amount on a cold plate, and place the plate in the freezer for a few minutes. If it gels, the mixture is ready.

When peaches reach jelly consistency, remove empty jars, lids, and rims from hot water, and set on a towel. Fill jars with hot jam, leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top. To release air pockets, run a butter knife or wooden skewer around the sides and through the middle of the jars.

Wipe rims of jars with a clean cloth, and place lids on each. Screw rims on firmly (not too tight). Now it's time to process your jam. Using your tongs, place jars in your makeshift water bath canner. (Jars should not touch each other.) The water level should be 2 inches above the lids.

Bring water to a boil, and boil 10 minutes (half-pint or pint-sized jars). If you live at an altitude above 6,000 feet, the National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends processing for an additional five minutes.

Use tongs to remove jars, and place undisturbed on a towel for 24 hours. (Make sure jars don't touch each other.)

Lids should seal within 30 minutes. To check if they have sealed, press down on each lid. If they don't bounce back, they are sealed properly. Jars that don't seal within 24 hours should be refrigerated and eaten promptly. Enjoy!


  1. So yummy looking! A quick suggestion is to make sure you put some sort of rack in the bottom of your pot. This protects the jars. Dollar Tree and maybe the 99 Cent Only stores have very cheap cooling racks that bend very easily. They can fit in the bottom and if all else fails, you can find water bath and pressure canners at Walmart.

    1. Anonymous8/29/2017

      Yes, definitely use a canner rack. It's not expensive to buy the water bath canners with the rack included. You will use a canner forever, if you don't let it rust, so initial $ outlay will be divided by many years. The rack keeps the jars from touching the bottom, touching each other, and it keeps them upright as the water boils. I've had a jar bottom fail in the canner, even using a new jar and a rack, and that's not something you want to experience!

      Other than that, your procedure looks pretty good. But I wouldn't use a wooden skewer to poke out air bubbles. Wood is hard to get clean, if you plan to reuse that skewer. Use either the knife, or the thin plastic blade that Ball sells with their canning funnels and jar lifters. (Two more inexpensive, handy things to own.)

      Nothing better, after all that work, than hearing that satisfying PING as the lids snap themselves down while cooling.

    2. Oh I agree about that wonderful PING sound! I wish I had something to can now.
      Our pickle cucumbers aren't ready to be harvested yet. I can't wait!

  2. Alicia Mae8/28/2017

    Yum, looks delicious!

  3. Anonymous8/29/2017

    Your indusrty is admirable and somewhat inspiring. I don't know if it matters to me to have a few dozen jars of sugary peach jam scored away. I guess it is a good idea...
    It is stored up food for winter.

    1. Anonymous8/29/2017

      It's a good idea if you have the fruit, access to all the equipment, and some experience (or a willingness to learn the proper process). Otherwise, it can be a lot of work, and store-bought jam can be cheaper. However, homemade jam usually wins hands-down in the flavor department!

  4. Anonymous8/29/2017

    I no longer do any canning, I have donated all my canning supplies to a local organization. Eileen

    1. Anonymous8/29/2017

      My stuff is collecting dust in the garage, but I sure miss the days when I was physically able to tackle jars and jars of jams and pickles at a time! It's a labor of love. Maybe I'll have to make another batch of bread & butter pickles next year, for old times' sake. They are sooo good! But they take labor over 2 days to make, plus a trip to the farmer's market first for the freshest, best cucumbers. And then the house smells like hot vinegar for a day, and you make a huge mess of the kitchen...

    2. Anonymous8/31/2017

      Yes, lots of work. I grew all our vegies and fruit and made sure it all lasted during the non gardening months,but I just find it too much now. We live in a different place now and somewhere along the l lost my motivation. My time is focussed elsewhere.

  5. Anonymous8/29/2017

    I knew a lady who had high blood sugar that made apple preserves in a pressure canner using no sugar.

  6. Anonymous8/29/2017

    I just bought a pressure canner, and have a garden full of food to can, but I'm completely intimidated by the process. You make it look easy.

    1. Anonymous8/30/2017

      Start small with whatever you could water bath can (jam, pickles), to learn the process. Try fridge pickles or freezer jam if you're really new to things.

      Remember that food safety and cleanliness are key. Start with good produce, and don't introduce unnecessary dirt or germs into the food as you do the steps. (I always feel like a surgeon, working in a clean operating room.) Don't take any shortcuts, follow trusted (current) sources for directions, and don't use a long-outdated cookbook (canning recommendations can change). Check out the Ball canning site for help. Extension services and food safety information from major universities (both online) are good sources of help.

      It's not that hard to can, but it is more work than going to the store and picking up some cans of food. Read up first, take it step by step, follow the directions with your equipment and recipes, and you'll be OK.

    2. I bought a pressure canner a few months ago and I named it Little Bertha. When I unboxed it, it looked absolutely menacing! Now that I've used it a few times it's not so scary anymore. I would suggest watching several YouTube videos on pressure canning. My favorite is Grandma Lynda. Have fun with your new canner. Just remember to follow the procedures for your elevation as far as how many pounds of pressure you need.

    3. Anonymous8/30/2017

      This post did not show pressure canning.

    4. Anonymous8/31/2017

      No it didn't show pressure canning, but that is just as much a part of food preservation as water bath canning is. They go hand-in-hand, and if you learn one method, you're well on the way to learning the other. And it's good to be able to recognize when something needs to be pressure canned vs. water bath canned.

  7. Anonymous8/29/2017

    My doctor told me to watch my sugar intake, but if I could eat it I would smother it on homemade bread or french toast...Jane

  8. Anonymous8/29/2017

    Sounds and looks delicious. Thanks for the recipe.