8.25.2012

Jammin, Too!: The Sequel

Last week, my friend Magda in The Netherlands posted a nectarine jam with a hint of lemon on her wonderful blog, My Little Expat Kitchen with its beautiful photography and amazing recipes. I’d already done the photography for a blog on jam making, so I’d need a new title for my planned post on jam making: thus, Jammin’, Too!

Our mini tagine that Nancy and Ray brought us back from Morocco!
Yep, that's a reference to all those (mostly bad) sequel movies out there. Jaws II, Blade II, Hangover II, Bloodfist II. (Was there really a Bloodfist I? And, pray tell, why are there six more after that?) Let’s hope this post falls in the category of good sequels: Toy Story II and III, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia.

When I go fruit picking, my excitement leads me to over pick. While I grew up in a home that valued good, well-balanced meals, I don't think we ate fruit fresh from a tree, bush or vine very often. With the exception of farm-stand tomatoes and corn, fruit came from a supermarket and lacked real flavor. Happily, we were spared the horrors of Styrofoam tomatoes, and my mother wouldn't buy corn except at a farm stand (and most likely knew the farmer by name).

Now, by way of overcompensation, when I’m in a field resplendent with raspberries or an orchard of trees heavily laden with peaches or apples, I can't stop myself. My common-sense meter shuts down and I pick as much fruit as I can carry. Each fruit I see is better than the last, and the next is even better. I tell myself I’ll have no problem using all this fruit in the coming week.

When we headed for Apple Annie's orchard a couple of weeks ago, I was going to pick just enough for the peach frangipane tart with a few extras to nibble on. I picked perhaps six pounds more than I needed. What was I thinking? It was time to jam in the kitchen!

Also, it’s about time you see a bit more lavender from me. After all, the name of the blog is Cocoa and Lavender. And northern Arizona is emerging as a center for farm-raised culinary lavender - check our Red Rock Farms. Thus today’s jam recipe and, in a couple of weeks, a lemon-blueberry tart with a lavender short crust. I’ll also make an apple crostata with a lavender-rosemary crust, so you might see that here soon, too.

As we get to the end of August and the lavender fields of Provence (and northern Arizona) are coming to the end of their season, my season for cooking with lavender seems just to be starting!

Chow for now! (or is that "ciao for niao?")

~ David

Lavender-infused Peach Jam

2 tablespoons culinary lavender buds
1/2 cup water
4 1/2 pounds ripe peaches
Scant 4 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon


Bring lavender buds* and water to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep while you prepare the fruit.

Fill a large bowl with ice water.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In batches, drop peaches in the water for 45-60 seconds then remove and immediately put in ice water. When all peaches have been blanched and refreshed in ice water, slip the skin off the fruit and discard.

Cut peaches in half, pit them, then slice into a large soup pot. Add sugar and stir, then let macerate for 20 minutes. Strain the lavender water into the peaches, add lemon juice and stir.

Place a couple of small plates in the freeze for later testing. Bring peaches, sugar, lavender and lemon juice to a boil. Reduce heat and keep at a constant boil for 15-20 minutes. All the foam, should be subsiding by this point - a sign that your jam is ready to set. Using a potato masher, mash the fruit (it should be soft). Alternatively, use an immersion blender if you prefer a smoother jam.

Put a teaspoon of jam on one of the frozen plates (keep jam boiling) and return the plate to the freezer for a minute. If, after a minute, you can run your finger through the jam and it stays put (doesn't run), your jam is set. If not, keep boiling another 5 minutes or so and try again until the jam sets fully.

Pack jam into sterile half-pint jars with lids, seal and process for 15 minutes. ** Let processed jars cool; lids with 'pop' inward as they cool. Store at room temperature. Any jars with lids that don't pop can be safely used if stored in the refrigerator for up to several months.

* make sure your lavender is culinary grade; other varieties have pesticides
** for safe canning procedures, see the Ball website

9 comments:

  1. It´s not very polite to post two fresh peach recipes almost back to back, when I still have months to find a decent one! Peaches not recipes.. This food blogging will definitely be a complication when the summer kicks in, there are SO many things to bake and cook and jam. And I thought I was going to slim down my to-do list. I´ll pin this right now. Fantastic!

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  2. As easy as jam is to make, I've never made it! I can see myself making it when stone fruits are in season here. I'd definitely be leaving mine a bit chunky!

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  3. David, what a beautiful jam!! I love peaches, I have been eating them like crazy all August, but they're wonderful made into a jam. The lavender sounds exciting, I have been experimenting with it lately.

    I love that wooden knife, btw.

    P.S. Nice title. :)

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  4. Paula - sorry! I hate to tease but think of all the teasing you have coming when it is winter here! :) My "to do list" grows in proportion to my waistline these days...

    John - it is definitely worth making your own jams even if you only have a little fruit that needs to be used. Just keep the fruit-to-sugar ration the dame and boil away!

    Magda - have your peaches been particularly good this summer? Ours have, and I can't seem to get enough! Have fun with the lavender - I am having fun with it, too!

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  5. This is a very good sequel - kind of like Back To The Future Part 2!
    I have a jar of culinary lavender in the pantry that I am dying to use. I know where I will be using it first!

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  6. That is funny, Anna - we actually talked about Back to the Future, as well - but I never made the connection in terms of Magda's post! Wait till you see the lavender crust for next week!

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  7. I adore the pretty floral scent that lavender adds to sweet things. I can so imagine them working beautifully with peach. Looks glorious!

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  8. Lavender and peaches....hmmm....I have never thought about pairing the two, but it sounds like such a luscious combination. I have the jars and the (culinary) lavender...now if I only could find some peaches this weekend! (I am out of those from my order from Red Cooper!)

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  9. Leaf - it is wonderful with the peaches but even better with lemon - check out this week
    s post on the lemon-blueberry tart!

    Susan - Sorry you are low on peaches there - maybe the market will have some this morning! Oh, I got the BEST care package form Provence today... You and I will need to discuss!

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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