Can I cheat when I make homemade jam? Why yes, apparently I can! As a rule, it’s important to follow the directions on the little box of Sure.Jell or Certo. Things really do turn out as expected more often when you do that. Results are a little less certain if you’re making no-added-pectin jam. Sometimes, regardless which type of jam you’re making, it’s worth giving it a try.
My first cheat on this peach jam was using 4-year-old fruit. Yes, you read that correctly: four-YEAR-old fruit. Four years ago we had a great year of peaches and I ended up with too many to process all at once. I froze ziplock bags of peaches in the correct jam-making amounts. Two of these bags of skinned, pitted, and chopped peaches somehow escaped my notice and my periodic freezer clean-outs for four years! Since it was a deep freeze, it seemed worth at least thawing them out to see if they were still good.
I put the bags of peaches in a plastic tub in the fridge and let them thaw. Yup, definitely still peachy and delicious. Unfortunately, both bags had minute leaks in them so as they thawed, the two bags sort of all ran together….which lead to my second cheat.
Every Sure.Jell or Certo box clearly instructs us to measure ingredients accurately and NOT double the recipe. NEVER double the recipe. Ever.
But I did. I had a tub of 8 cups of peachy mush and not a lot of time….so I broke that rule too.
I followed the directions on my Sure.Jell boxes except, of course, I doubled everything. As written, the directions said to combine 4 cups of chopped peaches with a package of Sure.Jell and cook that in a deep, heavy stock pot until it boils. I brought the peaches, 2 T. lemon juice, and pectin to a fast, rolling boil that wouldn’t settle down even when I stirred it continuously.
While the peaches were cooking, I measured out 5 1/2 c. sugar into a bowl. Once the peaches were boiling vigorously, I dumped in the entire bowl of sugar all at once and stirred like crazy. I also dropped in about 1/2 t. butter to keep the foam down. It didn’t take long to bring that back to a boil. Once the mixture had returned to a full boil, I boiled and stirred for 1 full minute. Then I removed the pot from the heat.
Meanwhile, I had prepared my jars by running them through the dishwasher. I put a smaller saucepan of water on to boil. Once that water was boiling, I put the lids and rings into the boiling water and kept them simmering in that boiling water until I was ready to use them.
Immediately after removing the pot of jam from the heat, I ladled it into clean, waiting jars. I damp-wiped the tops and put the lids and rings on. I flipped the jars upside down for about ten minutes.
I set the cooling jars of jam on a folded towel and waited for that beautiful musical <
Remember, I doubled everything when I made this jam, in spite of strict instruction not to. It turned out just fine for me this time!
The jam turned out beautifully! And it’s delicious. As a side note, I did not try to make this jam without pectin because I knew that the peaches were thoroughly ripe and sweet when I froze them four years ago. To successfully make no-added-pectin jam, it really helps to have SOME unripe or under-ripe fruit in the mix.
All the federal agencies that regulate food safety agree that jam should be water-bath canned after being jarred for safety. I choose not to do that because jam is eaten up so quickly around my house, I don’t really worry about it. You should research your choices for yourself on this.