When I was a little girl, my Aunt Belinda and my Great Aunt Mim taught me how to make homemade jams. Jamming is a tradition that I’ve carried on into my adult life. I make them every summer when fruits are in season—my favorites: balsamic strawberry, cherry port, fig rosemary, strawberry or apricot rhubarb, and the combination of this recipe, peach and pineapple. I love its sweet and tangy flavors together. Spread it on toast, stir it into yogurt, or use it as a glaze for pork chops or ham. I gift them to friends and family throughout the year. Plus, they are a taste of sunshine from my pantry in the winter months.
A Big Batch or Half a Batch of Jam
This recipe makes a big batch of jam—it yields ten (8-ounce) jars. Scale the recipe in half for a smaller batch. This may be necessary if you don’t have a heavy-bottomed pot that’s large enough to hold the fruit and sugar.
I like to use either a jam pot—known as a maslin pan—or a 9-quart Dutch oven. An 8-quart stock pot will also work, if it is heavy-bottomed. For a half batch, you can use a smaller pot—the jam will take less time to cook to the perfect temperature of 220°F to 222°F.
Fresh vs. Frozen Fruit for Jam
Either fresh or frozen and thawed peaches and pineapples can be used to make this jam. I often buy fruit when it’s in season and on sale, then chop it up and freeze it so that I can make jam when I have the time. But you can buy frozen fruit for jamming! Thaw it in the refrigerator for about 24 hours before you plan to make the jam.
The Best Fruit-to-Sugar Ratio
I like to use 4 pounds (about 10 cups) of chopped fruit and 4 pounds (about 9 cups) of sugar. This is a traditional 1-to-1 fruit-to-sugar ratio for making jam that will keep for up to two years without loss of color or flavor if properly canned. Some people like to use less sugar, but the jam will take longer to cook, reduce too much before it sets, and it won’t have a long shelf life.
Citrus to Help Thicken the Jam
I add a glug of lemon or lime juice to help with the pectin setting—the jam will be viscous and spreadable rather than just syrupy. A little bit of acid helps this process along. It also offsets the sweetness of the sugar. Since peaches and pineapples are high in acid, they only require a moderate amount of citrus juice—a tablespoon per pound of fruit is enough.
For lower acid fruits, add more lemon or lime juice, or a mixture of both. Avoid using sweeter citrus like oranges, which isn’t acidic enough to do the job.
Chunky vs. Smooth Jam
The texture of jam is a matter of personal taste. For a chunky jam, cut the fruit into bigger pieces. For a smooth jam, use an immersion blender to blend the fully cooked jam directly in the pot. Wear heat-resistant oven mitts and make sure that blade of the immersion blender is completely submerged in the jam at all times. You do not want to splatter hot jam. It will burn you!
A note on safety: My aunties didn’t invite me into the kitchen to help with jamming until I was maybe 9 or 10 years old. Hot jam is about 220°F. You must be very careful while it boils because it tends to bubble and splatter, especially towards the end of cooking. You’ll need to stir it often to keep it from scorching. Always wear a heat-resistant oven mitt that covers your forearm, and use a long-handled wooden spoon so that you’re not hovering too close to the pot.
Why Can This Jam?
Canning is the process of sealing the jars of jam in a hot water bath so that it can be stored for longer. Some people forgo this step and seal the jars by flipping them upside down, but this does not guarantee that your jam won’t spoil. It takes a little effort to can the jars in the hot water bath, but your jams will be sealed properly and will safely last through a winter or two!
Tools for Making Jam and Canning
Picture yourself making more jam? Investing in the proper tools will help you make jam safely and efficiently. Luckily, they are relatively inexpensive.
- A very large, heavy-bottomed pot like a soup pot, Dutch oven, or maslin pan
- Hot water bath canner or another large, high-sided pot with a wire metal rack
- Jam funnel
- Jar lifter
- Large, long handled wooden spoon
- Metal ladle
- Jar jams with new lids and bands
Oh, and jam making is a sticky—sometimes messy—task. My aunties always lined the countertops with clean kitchen towels for easy cleanup. It’s easier than wiping sticky jam off the countertops. They threw the dirty towels in the wash and that was that. The kitchen towels also make for a soft landing spot for the hot jars to cool.
On a Roll with Jamming
Peach and Pineapple Jam
5 cups (2 pounds) chopped unpeeled peaches, fresh or frozen and thawed
5 cups (2 pounds) chopped pineapple, fresh or frozen and thawed
9 cups (about 4 pounds) sugar
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice, fresh or bottled
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter or margarine (optional)
- 10 (8-ounce) canning jars
Macerate the fruit:
In a very large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the peaches, pineapple, sugar, and lemon or lime juice. Use a large wooden spoon to stir everything together. Let the fruit sit and macerate in the sugar and lemon juice for 1 hour. This will draw out the juices from the fruit.
If your peaches and pineapple were frozen and thawed, don’t drain and discard the juices they release. Add them to the pot. You don’t have to macerate the thawed fruit.
Meanwhile, set up for canning:
Use dish soap and hot water to wash 10 (8-ounce) canning jars, lids, and bands. Set the jars upside down on a drying rack and place the lids and bands in a large bowl.
You’ll need a clean flat surface with enough space to fill the jars with jam and cool them after they go into a hot water bath. I like to use the countertop right next to my stove. Lay out two large clean kitchen towels on the countertop.
Place a ladle and jam funnel nearby, preferably on a large plate since they’ll be covered in sticky jam soon. Dampen a couple of clean dish rags or paper towels. You’ll use them to wipe the jar rims clean after filling them with jam.
Fill a hot water bath canner two thirds with water, place the empty jars inside, and set the canner on the stovetop over medium heat. The jars go in right side up, fully submerged. Place it on a back burner so that it’s out of the way. When it comes to a boil, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low so that the water stays at a bare simmer while the jam cooks. That way, it will quickly come up to a boil again when the jam jars are ready for the hot water bath. Keep the jar lifter close by.
Cook the jam:
Give the fruit a stir. Some liquid should have been released. Place the pot over medium-high heat, and bring it up to a boil, stirring every few minutes. Wear heat resistant kitchen mitts and use the largest wooden spoon you own. The jam bubbles and splatters as it cooks—it’ll burn you if you’re not careful.
Once the jam comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium. Stir every minute or so to keep the jam from scorching, and periodically check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. As an alternative, you can use a candy thermometer clipped to the side of the pot. You’re looking for 220°F.
As the jam cooks and climbs in temperature, it will go through a couple of stages. At first, foam will form and the jam will boil up the sides of the pot. Then, as it nears its final temperature, the foam will subside, and the jam will become glossier in appearance. When it’s about to reach 220°F, it will burble like hot lava, so be extra careful!
Transfer the jam to into jars:
When the jam reaches 220ºF to 222ºF—this takes 25 to 30 minutes depending on the size of your pot—and the foam subsides, turn off the heat. If there is excess foam on top, scrape it off with a spoon or stir in 1/2 teaspoon of butter—it will get rid of the foam without wasting any jam.
Your jam is now ready to can. Although I find that measuring the temperature can reliably determine if the jam is ready, you could test it for doneness: Scoop out a spoonful of jam and let it cool on a plate. The jam should be thick, glossy, and not run down the plate when you tilt it.
Use a jar lifter to remove the hot jars from the canner, pouring out the water into the canner. Place the empty jars on the prepared kitchen towels on the countertop.
Place the funnel into a jar. Use the ladle to fill the jar with jam until it is 1/4 inch from the rim. Use the prepared damp dish rag or paper towel to wipe excess jam off the rim of the jar, making sure it is very clean. Place a lid on the jar, then screw on the band. The band should be “fingertip tight”—don’t tighten it forcefully, but make sure it is snugly screwed on with your fingertips. Fill and seal the remaining jars.
Can the jam:
Move the hot water bath canner to a front burner and crank up the heat to high. When the water boils, turn the heat down to medium-low. Use the jar lifter to carefully lower the filled jars into the hot water bath. When all the jars are in, let them boil for five minutes. The jars should be fully submerged. Turn off the heat, then let the jars sit in the hot water bath for 5 more minutes.
Cool and store the jam:
Use the jar lifter to transfer the jars onto the prepared kitchen towels on the countertop. If the bands have loosened, don’t retighten them—it will interfere with the sealing process. Let the jars cool for 12 to 24 hours.
Once the jars are fully cooled (never before!), test them by tapping the top of the lids with a finger—the tops should not pop up and down. If any of the lids are not fully sealed, you can bring the jam back up to a boil and repeat the hot water bath canning and cooling process.
Remove the bands from the fully cooled and sealed jars. Wash the bands and jars under running water to remove any traces of sticky jam. Dry the jars with a clean kitchen towel and apply labels (with the name and date!). Store them in a dark pantry, with the bands in a basket nearby, for one to two years.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 32g||12%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 31g|
|Vitamin C 8mg||40%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|