I love this time of year when produce stands start to pop up on roadsides and farmer’s markets have an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables from area farms. This week my husband drove to the nearby town of Fredericksburg, Texas, famous for its peaches, and brought back enough to make peach jam. He’s the cook at my house and I love watching him in action. It reminds me of being a girl back in Kansas where every summer my Grandma Irene and my Great Grandma Bertie would each buy a bushel basket of Colorado peaches and can them all. Sweat would roll down our necks in that kitchen with no air conditioning, but we didn’t care. We were making jam. We would wait for the pop-pop sound that told us the lids had sealed and cheer when we heard it. Later, we’d have peach pie in the winter and the smell would take me back to those hot, humid July afternoons and golden times with two great ladies in my life.
That’s one of the things I love about the Amish. They have canning frolics, turning what others might consider work into a social gathering. Chatting and catching up on “news” while putting up fruits and vegetables that will last them through the winter months. Work is fun when you do it with family and friends. I learned that as a child and writing about the Amish has reminded me of it. The concept is woven into The Beekeeper’s Son, the first book in the Amish of Bee County series. The women in this small community in south Texas gather to can vegetables and help prepare honey to sell in the district’s Combination Store. They find joy in it. I’ll be reminded again when I slather that peach jam on my English muffin for breakfast tomorrow!
Here’s an old fashioned recipe for peach jam of which my grannies would certainly approve:
- 3 lbs of fresh, ripe peaches (makes 4 cups cooked fruit)
- 2 lemons
- 7 – ½ cups sugar
- 1 pouch CERTO fruit pectin
- Prepare jars, screw bands, and boiling water canner.
- Peel, pit and finely chop peaches. Use a potato masher to crush but don’t puree. It’s better with chunks of peaches!
- Add 4 cups of fruit to a 6- or 8-quart sauce pot.
- Stir in lemon juice.
- Stir in sugar.
- Bring mixture to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly.
- Stir in pectin quickly.
- Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly one minute, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and skim off any foam with metal spoon.
- Ladle into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches; add boiling water if needed.
- Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process for 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. Listen for that pop-pop sound!
Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest House Publishers. Her latest release is The Beekeeper’s Son which released January 12th. It is the first book in the Amish of Bee County series for Zondervan/HarperCollins. She has also penned two inspirational romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.
Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-six years. They have two young adult children, a new granddaughter, two cats, and a tank full of fish. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors.
Purchase Kelly’s books here.