This month’s contribution to the Can Jam, a Peach Vanilla Marmalade, kind of evolved in the pot as I went along. Once again, I found myself seasonally-challenged by the choice of “stone fruit” by Kate of The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking. To my knowledge, we don’t have much in the way of stone fruit in South Florida (unless you count mangoes – should I have counted mangoes?) this time of year, so I settled for the bounty of California peaches that are apparently in-season and flooding our markets right now. (I should note here that the computer file I created for the photos I took for this episode, is titled “Sept 2010_Stoned Fruit”. Should say a little about where my head was at.)
When we get them, the peaches start out rock-hard, then ripen in an instant, so I virtually stared them down, giving the occasional poke, until they were ready. All the while, I longingly recalled the gorgeous fresh peaches I’d seen and tasted in the Granville Island Market, while visiting Vancouver a couple of weeks ago. Wish I could’ve brought them home with me… sigh.
4 lbs. ripe peaches
1 lb. ripe nectarines
7 average lemons
2 cups water
8 cups sugar
1 Tbs. clear vanilla extract
Stash a couple of small plates in the freezer for gel-testing.
Peel, stone, and chop the peaches and nectarines into rather small pieces (about 1/4-1/2 inch) and place them in a bowl of cold, acidulated water (add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice to the bowl of water to acidulate it).
Shred the lemons finely with a mandoline, being careful to remove the seeds as you go along. Place them in a large (roughly 6 or 7 quart) non-reactive pot. Add the water, cover, and boil on medium-high heat for 25 minutes.
Drain the peaches/nectarines. Add the fruit and sugar to the pot and stir well. Bring back to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and do a gel test by putting a small spoonful of the liquid on one of the frozen plates, return the plate to the freezer for about a minute, then remove. With the tip of a spoon or your fingernail, push the liquid on the plate. If it wrinkles – even a little bit – you’re ready to can. If it stays completely liquid, return the pot to the heat and cook for an additional 5 minutes, then try again.
Add the tablespoon of vanilla to the pot when you get a successful gel-test and stir well.
Ladle the hot marmalade into sterilized, prepared jars, wipe the rims with a very damp paper towel to clean them, cover with new, heated lids, and screw on the bands finger-tight. Boiling water process for 5 minutes. Wait 24 hours to test your seals (they should have all gone ping! and the lids should have no flex when pushed on).
Label and store your golden treasures against the cold, dark winter months ahead, so you can dream about summer once again. Of course, it’ll be sunny and pleasant here, and I’ll be outside gardening & basking while y’all are inside, hiding from the cold and shivering. Bwahahahaha! Oops! Did I say that out loud?