Add 5 pints of peach jam to your pantry before the fresh fruit goes out of season.
3-1/2 pounds fresh, ripe peaches
8 tablespoons pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
4-1/2 cups sugar
As always, bring water in your water bath canner to a boil, have lids simmering in a pan of water and sterilize your jars. This week, though, you're going to need to bring another pot of water, large enough to hold your peaches, to a boil as well.
Peaches are different from other fruits I've talked about in this column so far because you have to peel them before you are able to can them. The easiest way to do this is to blanch them — put them in the boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, then plunge them into a bowl of ice water. The skins should slip off easily. Let the peaches cool, then halve them, remove the stones and cut them into medium-size pieces.
Put the peach pieces in another bowl and pour the lemon juice over them and mix well. This will help keep them from turning brown. Mash the peaches up and put them in a heavy-bottomed pan.
Add the pectin and the water, stirring well, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the sugar, bring back to a boil, and hard-boil for about a minute.
Ladle into jars about 1/4-inch from the top, put lids on, screw on bands finger-tight, and process in a boiling water-bath canner for between 5 and 10 minutes (longer for larger jars).
Remove from canner, let cool. Flex-test the lids to ensure they've sealed. Store in a cool, dry place for up to 12 months.
•No matter how good you are with blanching, there will always be stubborn skins. Be prepared to skin them with a vegetable peeler.
•The longer you boil the fruit, pectin and sugar mixture, the thicker it will get.
•Experiment with other kinds of fruit! I have added raspberries and strawberries to peach jam in the past with good results. Reduce the peaches by whatever amount of other fruit you are adding.
•If you add spices — such as ginger or cinnamon — be aware the spices' intensity will increase during canning and storage.
— Lauren Gross, a York transplant, has long been fascinated by the science of cooking. Her column, Preserving the Harvest, runs seasonally in The York Dispatch food section.