Thursday, November 12, 2009
VANILLA-BOURBON PEACH JAM
I don’t even remember how I stumbled across this recipe, but once I saw it, I knew that I’d have to try it, and that it would be well worth departing from the safety of Ball-approved recipes. I mean, peaches, vanilla bean, lime juice, bourbon, and almond extract? Be still my heart! I rushed out to the farmers’ market and snatched up some of the last peaches of the year (literally; they were labeled with a sign that said “Last chance!”), speed-ripened them overnight in a paper bag with a ripe banana, and whipped up what may be the most delicious jam I’ve ever made. I didn’t think it would be possible for it to live up to my feverish expectations, but it really did: savory with almond, rich with vanilla, and with a slight alcoholic bite from the Jim Beam. So far I’ve just been spreading it on toast, but I suspect it would be great on ice cream as well. I can’t wait until peach season rolls around next year so I can make more!
A few recipe tweaks: The original recipe called for half a vanilla bean, cut into pieces, but I wanted big vanilla flavor without actual chunks (I just love those specks of vanilla bean), so I used a whole bean but removed the actual pod part before putting the jam into jars. I also found that the original recipe’s instructions (add sugar, then pectin later) were exactly the opposite of those that came with my box of pectin (add pectin, then sugar later), so I decided to trust the authority of Sure-Jell and everything turned out fine; my modified version is below.
1 package low-sugar pectin (I used Sure-Jell for less or no sugar needed recipes, in the pink box)
3½ pounds ripe peaches
3 cups sugar (or whatever the instructions in the pectin box say)
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 whole vanilla bean
¼ cup bourbon
1 teaspoon almond extract
1. Prepare jars and closures as in steps 1–2 here.
2. Blanch the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then submerge in an ice bath. Slip off the skins and chop peaches into ¼-inch dice, removing the pits.
3. In a glass pie plate or flat-bottomed bowl, place a single layer of peach pieces. Using a potato masher, crush peaches until they reach your desired consistency and transfer to a large, deep, stainless-steel saucepan, repeating until all peaches are mashed and placed in saucepan.
4. Measure sugar into a large bowl and set aside.
5. Mix ¼ cup sugar from measured amount with the pectin in a small bowl. Add pectin-sugar mixture and lime juice to the peaches in the saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape out all the seeds with a small spoon, and add the seeds to the peach mixture. Add the vanilla bean halves and stir peach mixture well. Add ½ teaspoon butter to reduce foaming, if desired.
6. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.
7. Stir in remaining 2¾ cups sugar quickly. Return to a full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, skim off any foam, remove and discard vanilla bean halves, and stir in bourbon and almond extract.
8. Fill jars and process for 10 minutes, as in steps 7–9 here.
Yield: About 14–18 4-ounce jars
Time: 3 hours
Leftover potential: Leftovers are kind of the point here.