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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Millions of Peaches, Peaches for Me

If I had my little way I'd eat peaches everyday
Sun soakin' bulges in the shade

- Presidents of the United States of America

Peaches are one of my favourite fruits. They are sweet, dribble-down-your-chin juicy, and refreshing. And right now, local Ontario peaches are in season!

I love them in all of their shapes & forms from tinned peaches that offer a taste of summer when eaten in the dark dreary nights of winter, to the fragrant, massive globes found in the farmer’s market these days. They are heavenly when ripe and sweet, but they are also quite delicious under a crisp buttery granola topping or piled thickly & tucked into a sweetened pie crust. And, of course, I love them in this week's gooey summery jam.

Every year I vow, "Never again!" after I wearily emerge from a steamy kitchen with burnt fingers in a haze of sugar and fruit. Jam-making is a tedious task. (Not sure if it's this troublesome for everyone, but it certainly is for me.) Every year, I feel like I spend hours prepping & chopping fresh fruit, sterilizing jars, counting out lids & screw-tops, and processing.

But all of that fatigue and weariness fades away when there is a row of gleaming mason jars sitting on my kitchen counter. I well up with pride seeing all those hours of chopping, stirring and processing translated into pristine, shiny jars of jams. Then when I open up a jar and thickly smear that sweet, sticky and fruity jam onto warm, crusty toast, I know exactly why I make my own jam. There is nothing like it.

I have been making this beautiful peach lavender jam for years. It is intensely peachy and slightly floral from the lavender. It's summer in a jar.

While, I have tried my hands at other jams: strawberry, mixed fruit and even apple butter, the jam I long for the most, is this really special peach lavender jam.

Ah, peaches.

Peach Lavender Jam

1 tbsp dried lavender buds (organic)
1/4 c hot water
5 c peaches (peeled, pitted and chopped)
2 tbsp lemon juice
7 c granulated sugar
1 pouch pectin

1. Soak lavender in hot water for at leat 30 minutes. Strain and reserve tea.
2. In a large pot, add peaches, lemon juice, lavender tea, sugar and pectin.
3. Cook until the mixture boils and bubbles.
4. Skim off scum.
5. Boil for at least five to ten minutes or until jam sets. (To test, place a saucer in the freezer. Drop a small dollop on the cooled saucer. If the jam gels and appears jammy, then you're done.)
6. Carefully pour into sterilized mason jars. Secure with lid and screw cap on (not tightly, but firmly).
7. Process jam in a large water canner for at least 15-20 minutes from boiling point(check your elevation and adjust your times accordingly)
8. Carefully remove jars from hot water, cool on a clean tea towel. Refrain from moving for at least 1 day.

A great source for all things canning can be found at the National Center for Home Preservation: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/

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