Summer time means peaches and homemade peach jam. This recipe was inspired by my Aunt Lynne’s recipe. She makes her peach jam with pectin to ensure the right consistency every time. I’ve used real vanilla bean and a shot of good Kentucky Bourbon to her recipe for an awesome breakfast spread on your morning toast and biscuits.
skill level: intermediate
Though not difficult to make, you do have 3 elements working at the same time, sterilizing jars, melting paraffin wax and making the peach jam. I consider this an intermediate level skill.
Before you begin this recipe, I highly recommend reading this post through completely at least twice to have a better understanding of the process and to picture the steps.
My Aunt Lynne is famous for her jams and jellies. Every summer she’d put up at least 5 or 6 varieties of fresh preserves including everything from sugar plum and blueberry to strawberry and homemade peach jam.
We would happily receive them as gifts at Christmas time with a festive bow glued to the top of the jar. If you’ve got a bunch of fresh peaches… I think you just got your marching orders.
Note: this recipes has 3 parts that need to happen at about the same time: the peach bourbon jam, sterilizing the jars and melting the paraffin wax. It’s easy, but you do need to be mindful of the 3 components so that everything is ready at the same time.
Peach Bourbon Jam Ingredients:
- Fresh Peaches
- Lemon Zest & Juice
- Granulated Sugar
- Split Vanilla Bean
- Liquid Pectin
- Kentucky Bourbon
In the past, I’ve made small batches of fresh jams as well as larger batches that I’ve preserved via the water canning method.
Obviously fresh jams are simple to make and are meant to be enjoyed soon after making. However, canned jams, jellies etc. are meant to put on the shelf for use down the road. That means you have to be pretty particular about temperatures, consistency and sterilization. It’s a process.
This peach jam with pectin, is quicker, easier and more fool proof. Plus it produces the perfect jellied consistency to spread over your morning bread or toast.
Special equipment for making peach bourbon jam:
- 8 half pint canning jars with rubber seal tops and screw on lids. Note: You can re-use canning jars and screw on tops, but you’ll want new lids with the rubber flange seal for canning.
- Large very deep stock pot for sterilizing canning jars – I recommend a spaghetti pot.
- Wire rack that fits the stock pot (optional)
- Jar lifter or tongs to remove the jars from the boiling water.
- 1/2 cup soup ladle.
- Wide mouth funnel to pour into the jars without spilling/burning yourself.
- Paraffin Wax
- Double boiler or a small sauce pan and a larger glass bowl that can rest over the pan without touching simmering water in the pan.
- A container with a pouring spout (like a glass measuring cup) to pour the melted wax over the jams.
I use my biggest pasta pot to sterilize the jars for my bourbon peach jam (8 jars fit snugly in the pot). If your pot is wider, and the jars have room to jiggle about, you may want to use a rack in the bottom of the pot to prevent them from accidentally cracking or chipping.
How to sterilize jars & can homemade peach jam with pectin
- Fill the pot deep enough to cover the jars with a couple of inches of water and still have room to prevent the boiling water from flying out of the pot onto the stove. You don’t want to have to turn the water down to avoid spilling because it’s that 212° F temperature you’re after for sterilizing.
- If you’re using a rack to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot, place it in the pot.
- Submerge the jars in the water so they are filled and covered by several inches. Add the screw top bands.
- Note: You don’t need to sterilize new rubber lids as too much heat and damage the rubberized bands. Just simmer the bands for a few minutes in a small pot of hot water to soften the the flange.
- Bring the water to a boil and keep at a rolling boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. (Once the water starts to boil, this is a good time to assemble the peach jam recipe in the other pot. The jars can sterilize while you’re making the jam and they’ll be ready to fill when the jam is done).
- Turn off the heat.
- Use a jar-lifter or pair of tongs to carefully remove the jars from the water, pouring the water back into the pot.
- Set the jars on a surface lined with a dish towel, so they don’t slide across the counter (it happens).
- The residual water will evaporate enough to dry the jars because they’re so hot.
- Fill the jars to the point of the rim rings with the peach jam while the jars are still hot and pour over the melted paraffin wax to completely cover the jam.
- Rest the jar lid with the rubber sealing flange down on the jar and screw the jar shut.
- As the jam cools listen for a “ping” that ensures a tight seal. (If you don’t hear a “ping”, you’ll want to store the peach jam in the refrigerator – just to be on the safe side.)
Best peaches for homemade peach jam
To make the best peach jam, you need sweet, seasonal peaches. They should be firm, but yield slightly when pressed with your thumb. Perfectly ripe peaches should smell tangy and fruity with an aroma that makes it’s way to your tastebuds. You know how sometimes you can almost taste something just from a quick whiff? That aroma should be obvious.
I usually prefer freestone peaches to cling peaches because, in my opinion, freestone peaches are easier to prep. Freestone peaches have a skin that pulls away easily and you can peel them with a paring knife in about 30 seconds by just cutting a bit of the skin and pulling it back from the flesh.
The skin on cling peaches “clings” heartily to the flesh and won’t pull away of its own accord. For the clingstone variety, use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin.
How to chop peaches for jam recipe:
Regardless of which type of peaches you want to be sure to chop the fruit very finely. I recommend 1/4″ dice. You can go larger, if you like bigger chunks of fruit, but I find the smaller pieces easier to spread on toast.
You’ll need 4-5 cups of fresh diced fruit for 8 half pints of peach bourbon jam.
How to make peach jam with pectin:
- In a large, heavy pot (I like to use my Dutch oven) combine the fresh chopped peaches, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and a split vanilla bean.
- Stir well to combine the ingredients and bring to full, rolling boil. (Bubbles and foam will start to rise up the sides of the pot in a furious display).
- Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir the liquid pectin into the peach jam (I used a Sure-Jel Certo pouch).
- Return the jam mixture to the heat and bring to a full rolling boil for the second time. Cook and stir constantly for one minute.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the bourbon.
- If there’s a lot of foam on top, skim off the excess with a spoon and discard.
- Ladle the hot jam into sterilized jars (see instructions above).
- Add about 1/4″ of melted paraffin wax (I used Gulf Wax) to completely cover the peach bourbon jam.
- Fit the silicone seal lid on the jars while the jam is still hot and screw on the lid to finger tightness.
- You’ll hear a “ping” noise as they cool to room temperature and that’s an indication that you’ve achieved a good seal on the peach jam.
How to melt paraffin wax to seal the jam
- Use a double boiler or make your own like I did with a small sauce pan and larger glass bowl to rest on top of the pan.
- Add 1″ of water to the pan and set the paraffin blocks in the bowl.
- Over medium high heat, bring the water up to a low simmer (just a few bubbles coming to the top).
- As the water continues to heat, the wax will melt. You don’t need to stir or anything, just keep it on the back burner until you’re ready to use it.
- After the jars are filled with the peach jam, use oven mitts or a dish towel to carefully pour the hot wax into a receptacle with a pouring spout, like a glass measuring cup (it will offer more precision).
Fill the sterilized jars with peach jam
- Place the wide mouth funnel over the hot sterilized canning jar.
- Ladle the hot peach bourbon jam into the jar until it reaches about 1″ from the lip.
- Run a paper towel around the lip of the jar to remove any excess jam that may have dripped.
- Pour the melted wax over the jam.
- Top with the rubberized lid and screw on the the sealing ring.
- Let the peach jam with pectin cool to room temperature.
- Note: When you hear the “ping” noise that you’ve gotten a good seal on the jar and its safe to store in a cabinet or pantry. If you don’t hear the ping, best to play it safe and store in the refrigerator.
When my Aunt Lynne shared her recipe with me it was all of two short paragraphs. I think that comes from someone who is so accustomed to canning and preserving that it’s just second nature to them. I wrote this post for those of us not born with that innate canning gene.
It’s not difficult, but you want to get it right, right?
Troubleshooting jams that don’t set up:
Oftentimes, when a jam doesn’t set, it means it hasn’t been boiled long enough. Using commercial pectin usually mitigates that, but not always.
Sometimes it can take a day or two for jams to fully set up, If your jam is runny after that time period, sometimes it just needs to be put back into the pot and reboiled for one minute. Then allow it to rest and see if it doesn’t start to gel again.
Pour the contents of the jars (I know, P.I.T.A.) back into the pot add 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of pectin. Reboil the jam for one minute. Reprocess in the jars.
No. Sometimes even with our best efforts things go awry and just because a jam doesn’t set up according to your expectations, doesn’t mean it’s ruined. You just need to adjust your expectations… Instead of thinking of it as failed peach jam, think of it as preserved peach syrup to pour over pancakes, french toast and the like. Wouldn’t it be good over ice cream or spooned over biscuits with slices of fresh peaches and raspberries (a la peach melba)? Get creative and think outside the box.
What does fresh peach bourbon jam taste like?
To me, fresh peach jam tastes like summer. It’s peachy of course, sweet and perfumed. You can actually see the vanilla seeds suspended in the peach jam and both the vanilla and bourbon add a warmth and depth to these preserves.
How long will peach jam last?
If you’ve gotten a good seal on the peach bourbon jam, it should last in a cool dry space for 6 months or more.
What to serve with peach bourbon jam:
- Grandmother’s Puffs (Southern fry bread)
- Oatmeal Raisin Bread (toasted)
- Angel Flake Biscuits with Ham
- Or swirl it into morning yogurt and sprinkle with granola.
More jammy breakfast spreads you might like:
- 10 quart pot
- parafin wax (optional)
- large mouth funnel
- 8 half pint canning jars
- heavy dutch oven
- 4-5 large peaches
- 1-2 lemons depending on how much juice they yield
- 5 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 whole vanilla bean split
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 pouch Certo liquid pectin
STERILIZE THE JARS AND LIDS:
- Add enough water to the stockpan to cover the jars and lids by a few inches. (Note: the sealing lids — not the screw tops — can be added to the water for the last minute or so, as you just need them to get pliable enough to adhere to the mouth of the jars.) Bring the water to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Start the jam while the jars and lids are sterilizing.
- When you're ready to fill the jam jars, carefully remove the jars from the boiling water and set onto the counter. The residual heat from the jars will dry them (do not use a dish towel to dry them – as they aren't sterilized). Remove the lids and screw tops and let them air dry it should only take a minute or so.
MELT THE PARAFFIN WAX:
- Add 1 to 2" of water to the bottom of a double boiler or small pot. Add the parafin wax to the top of a double boiler, or a glass bowl that can sit on top of the pot without the base touching the water. Bring the water to a simmer and let the parafin melt.
MAKE THE PEACH JAM:
- Wash and peel the peaches. Cut them in half, vertically and remove the seed. Chop the peaches into a very fine dice, about 1/4". Measure out peaches until you have 4 to 4 1/2 cups of fresh fruit. Transfer to a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven.
- Add the sugar to the peaches.
- Zest the lemon with a microplane grater and add to the peaches. Squeeze the juice from the zested lemon and measure out 2 tablespoons of juice to add to the peach mixture. (Depending on how juicy your lemons are, you may need 1-2 lemons).
- Run a sharp knife down the center of the vanilla bean to split it and add the bean to the peach mixture. Stir well to combine.
- Heat the mixture over medium high heat and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly for one minute. Remove from the heat. Add the pouch of liquid pectin and stir to combine.
- Return to the heat and bring back to a full, rolling boil again, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the bourbon until well combined.
FILL THE JARS:
- Place the wide mouth funnel over a jam jar to fill with peach jam. Use a ladle to scoop the peach jam into the jar and fill it until it's about 1/2" from the top. Continue to fill all of the jars with the peach jam.
- Transfer the melted wax to a pourable container. Pour the melted wax gently over the hot jam. Wipe off the rim of the jar before placing the lid on and screwing on the seal just to finger tightness.
- If a good seal was achieved, you'll hear a ping noise as they cool to room temperature. If you don't hear the "ping" and the tops of the lids are still flexible, you'll need to store the jam in the refrigerator for food safety precautions.