Canning is the new knitting, a back-to-basics, just-like-Grandma pursuit for the city’s foodies. With Little Isobel, her line of artisanal jellies and jams, Philly’s Janina Larenas is ahead of the trend, already prepared to turn this month’s peaches into a year’s worth of brightly colored jam.
7 to 8 medium peaches
1 ½ c. granulated sugar
½ c. Campari
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1.75-oz. package Ball no-sugar-needed powdered pectin
1 c. water
6 half-pint canning jars and canning tongs
Wash peaches and chop (skin on) into ¼-inch cubes. You should have 5 cups. In a saucepan, combine peaches, sugar and Campari. Gently stir until peaches are well coated. Set aside for 20 minutes. Bring a saucepan filled with water to a simmer over low heat. Place canning jar lids in the warm water to soften seals. Wash canning jars and place them upside down on a clean towel. Keep screw bands dry. Place a small plate in the refrigerator. You will use this to test and adjust the set of your jam. Fit a cake rack in the bottom of a stockpot. Fill the stockpot halfway with water and warm over medium heat to 200° Fahrenheit. This will be your water bath. Warm peaches over low heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves, 1 to 5 minutes. Increase heat, and bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, skim foam, then whisk in pectin. Return to heat, and bring to a rolling boil for another minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam. Place a teaspoon of jam on the chilled plate and return to refrigerator until jam is cooled, about 1 minute. While you wait, continue to stir the jam. The chilled jam should be the exact consistency you want. If it’s too thick, stir in some water. If it’s too soft, add some lemon juice. Once desired consistency is reached, stir occasionally for an additional 5 minutes to evenly distribute fruit. Ladle hot jam into the prepared jars, wipe off lips, and apply lids and screw bands. Using tongs, add jars to the water bath for 10 minutes; the water should cover the jars by 2 inches. You will hear a pop as each jar seals. Remove from water and cool. Makes six half-pint jars.
Less-ripe fruit may require water to soften the jam.
Because this recipe calls for no-sugar-needed pectin, taste the peaches for sweetness and adjust the amount of sugar as needed.
During canning season, pectin is typically available at the grocery store; Fante’s in the Italian Market carries it year-round.
Store the jam in a cool (heat will damage the canning seals), dark (light can discolor the jam) place for up to 18 months.
Feel free to experiment with liquors other than Campari. Try spiced rum or ouzo.
Very ripe fruit often needs the added acidity of lemon juice to gel.
Larenas also uses peaches to make bourbon-spiked preserves, available at Littleisobel.com
Don’t be afraid. High-acid canning — that’s all fruit canning — is a safe way to store foods. Jars and tongs are the only must-have equipment for high-acid canning. You can improvise for the canning pot and rack.