Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Where did the summer go?
This morning, temps were in the 60s when I woke up-- a big change from the 80-plus-degree mornings we have had these past few weeks in the Northeast. It's refreshing but oddly odd, as the changing of seasons tends to always be, no matter how often we go through the process.
I love and hate each season, as I do summer, but there's one huge reason why I wait for it to come around each year more than I do any other season: the abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits which open so many delicious possibilities for a vegan cook. And when summer inevitably begins to wind down, I can't help but feel a little wistful and sad, as if a dear friend were saying a long goodbye.
This summer, I did something I hadn't done regularly in the past: I made preserves. Whenever I could find fruit at great prices, I picked up an armful and cooked up homemade jams and jellies. Strawberry, peach, blueberry...trust me, they tasted better than anything I've bought in a jar off a shelf. What's even better: I knew exactly what was in each of them.
Today, I wanted to share my peach jam recipe. This recipe is just enough to fill about one jar or so. Right now, new as I am at this, I don't want to be bothered with all the sterilizing and canning and whatnot that usually goes with making preserves that can be preserved for weeks and months... Well, maybe next year.
Here's the recipe. Enjoy, all!
4 perfectly ripe peaches. Cut a cross just through the skin on the bottom of each peach (not the side that attaches to the stem) and place them in boiling water for a minute. Remove, dunk in cold water to stop the cooking, cool. You can now easily peel the peach by pulling at the skin where you made the cut. Cut the peach in half, remove the pit, then chop the peach into a fine dice.
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (I add sugar a little at a time because there's no telling how sweet the peaches will be. So play it by ear.)
1 1-inch stick of cinnamon
Place all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pan. Stir and crush the peaches with a potato masher. If you want a really smooth consistency, process the peaches first in a food processor until they are almost a puree.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir with a ladle and crush the peaches down with the potato masher as they cook. Allow the jam to cook about 30 minutes or until it is quite thick.
Cool and refrigerate in an air-tight jar. This usually lasts me at least 2-3 weeks. If you are making larger quantities, be sure to follow instructions for canning to keep your jam from spoiling.