Have you ever been in that awkward social situation where you’ve bragged to some random person that you know how to sew your own dresses, you make a pot of coq au vin that tastes better than Julia’s, you have a whole garden of award winning rose bushes, and that you make the best jar of peach jam in the history of jam?
Then random person says: “ooh I love jam, bring me some and let me try it!”
Well, I can’t help you with most of those things, but the jam… I got your back on this.
This is the best peach jam. Ever.
Summer Peach Jam With Vanilla Bean
This jam has just a few simple ingredients that magically conjure up all kinds of images of summer barbeques and peach pie, fireflies, swimming in lakes under leafy green trees, laughter and whatever that dish was that your grandma made that was so delicious. Crack this jar open in December and it will work miracles in those dark winter hours.
For any beginning jammers out there, read past the recipe for step-by-step instructions that should work for the most inexperienced home cook.
Makes: 5 half-pint jars, plus a little extra
Cook Time: about an hour
- 4 c. of peeled, diced peaches (about 9 large peaches, ripe but not mushy)
- 1/3 vanilla bean
- juice from 1 lemon (2 tbs.)
- 3 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 packet of sure-jell low sugar pectin
Bring boiling water canner to a boil. Sterilize jars and lids. In a small bowl, whisk together pectin and 1/2 c. sugar. In a large, non-reactive pot, combine peaches, lemon juice, vanilla bean and the pectin-sugar mixture. Bring to a full boil and then pour in the remaining 3 c. sugar. Keep the heat on high, stir fairly often to prevent the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pan, and bring the jam back to a full rolling boil. Cook for exactly one full minute while at a boil, then remove from the heat. Ladle jam into sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wide rims clean and screw on the lids. Process for 10 minutes.
Try this jam on poundcake, in turnovers, or just in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Directions For Complete Beginners
If you’ve never made jam before, you’ll need the following items to get started:
- Jars and lids: I use Kerr 1/2 pint jars which are available at grocery stores and big box stores like Wal-Mart and Target.
- Boiling Water Canner: It’s really just a big pot with a rack in the bottom to hold jars.
- Jar Lifter: basically special tongs that fit perfectly around a jar… I’ve made jam without one and it’s awkward and you end up burning yourself a lot trying to get jars in and out of boiling water.
- Canning Funnel: use it to avoid messes when you fill jars with hot jam.
…things you probably own already, part of the canning mise-en-place that you’ll want to get out before you start cooking. Jamming goes very quickly and you don’t want to be running around the kitchen while you have a pot of boiling fruit cooking.
- Large, non-reactive pot: read here for a great explanation of what that means from Food In Jars
- clean kitchen towels or paper towels
- a sharp knife and clean cutting board
- a ladle and a wooden spoon
- medium sized glass or ceramic mixing bowl
- measuring cup
- whisk and a small mixing bowl
Now that you’ve gathered everything together, let’s get started.
Sterilize Your Jars and Lids
Some recipes may say that if you’re processing (putting the jars in the boiling water bath) the jam that you don’t need to sterilize the jars. I think it’s much easier always to sterilize them, just to be safe. This step is also beneficial because you want the jars to be hot while you’re working with them. If you put boiling hot jam into a cold jar and then put it into a boiling hot water bath, the jar will crack and break, and jam will go everywhere, and you’ll be really sad cleaning it all up.
That said, there are several ways to sterilize jars, but I use the oven. Wash them in soapy water and then put them on a cookie sheet in the oven set at 225 degrees. Make sure they’re in for atleast 20 minutes.
At this same time, I put on a kettle of water to boil and fill my boiling water canner with clean water and turn it on to boil.Wash your lids and rings in soapy water. (Note: Never re-use old ones because the sealing compound won’t necessarily work right twice.) Put the lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Set them aside until you’re ready to use them. Preparing The Peaches Bring a big pot of water to boil to blanch the peaches. Rinse the peaches in cold water, and then slice a small “x” in the bottom of each piece of fruit. (FYI, this same process works with tomatoes). Once the water comes to a boil, blanch the peaches for just about 30 seconds- too long will start to cook them, and that’s not what we want. The goal is to see the little pieces of skin around the cuts start to loosen. Drain the peaches, and then if you hold the peach under running water the skin should slip right off. Try to be as efficient as possible, since you don’t want to rinse all of the flavor and peach juice off, just the skin. Dice ’em up and the hard part is done!
Jam that Jam
Put the diced peaches into your non-reactive pot along with 2 tbs. lemon juice. Then you’re going to want to whisk together the powdered pectin with a half-cup of sugar to avoid having the pectin clump together in the fruit mixture. Put the pectin-sugar mixture into the pot with the peaches. And now, the secret ingredient: Whole vanilla bean tends to do some really amazing things to a batch of jam. They’re quite expensive, so I’ve only used 1/3 in this recipe, but feel free to go heavy on it if you want. To prepare the vanilla bean, slice off the section you’re using, then gently run a knife down it to slice into the middle of the bean. Scrape the bean with your knife and you’ll see tiny black seeds building up on the knife-edge. Scrape the seeds into the pot of fruit. After I do this, I put in the scraped bean too, just in case I’ve missed any. Everything should be in your jam pot now. Measure out the remaining three cups of sugar and set it aside so you have it ready for when you need it.
Give the peaches few stirs to combine everything together, and then turn on the heat to high (or medium-high, if your stove has a big flame). Bring it all to a full, rolling boil, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking. Quickly stir in the remaining three cups of sugar that you set aside earlier. Bring the jam back to a full, rolling boil. Keep stirring fairly often to prevent sticking. This is one of the moments in the jam-making process that a lot of beginning jammers can make mistakes. I don’t mean a gentle simmer. The jam should be boiling furiously, and when you stir everything it will just keep boiling away. Cook it at this full boil for exactly one minute: too short, and the jam won’t set, too long and it will be like a gummy bear.
Remove the pot from the heat now. It will be frothy on top but wait a few moments and a lot of the bubbles with dissipate. Use a spoon to skim any remaining foam off into a separate jar if there’s a lot left still. Remove the vanilla bean and set it aside. Then ladle the hot jam into your hot, sterilized jars, filling them to 1/4″ of the very top. (This is called “headspace” and varies depending on what type of canned good you’re making.)Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. This is another possible moment for mistakes. They rims must be absolutely clean and free of bits of peaches or sugar, otherwise the lids won’t seal and you’ll be sad that you spent so much time chopping peaches to get un-sealed jars. Attach the lids, then use your handy jar lifter to place the jars into your boiling water canner. The term “process” refers to putting the jars in the canner, waiting while they boil for a given amount of time, and then removing them again. Process your jars for 10 minutes.
Remove the jars from the canner and set them on the counter to rest. The lids haven’t sealed yet, so NO TOUCHING. Leave them alone for 12 hours to cool and let the lids seal. You’ll hear a lovely little “ping” when they seal. I have to emphasize: do not press down on the lids when they haven’t sealed yet. For some reason, so many people want to touch them right away. Don’t do it. Go work on a different project. And you’re done!
As one last little note, I’ll mention that every person will have their own subtle variations on how they set up and cook a batch of jam. The fundamentals should be the same, but everyone eventually devises a system that works for them. If you want to learn more about making jam and all kinds of preserved things, go get your hands on the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and you should stay busy for awhile. Happy jamming!
37 thoughts on “Vanilla Peach Jam”
- KarenI think my ice cream needs some of this jam on it-yup, it does.Reply
- carlaThis sounds and looks completely amazing! Thank you for sharing your great jam recipes. I can;t wait to make this one too!Reply
- Brooke – in OregonI have peaches just screaming to be made into this delectable treat! Thanks 🙂Reply
- Karen LThis seems straightforward enough that I may make my first “real” batch of jam. I’ve stuck to freezer jam so far…Reply
- SB CanningYour peaches peeled much easier than mine. Great looking jam!Reply
- CarolineThanks SB 🙂Reply
- AmandaSounds wonderful… and I have 2 bushels of peaches sitting in my kitchen awaiting their fate. However, I don’t have any vanilla beans and not sure I can find one before I have to start my jam-making session. Do you think (high-quality) vanilla extract would work in its place?Reply
- Carolineamanda, you can definitely just use vanilla extract. Vanilla bean has got way more vanilla kick to it, but going on huge missions all over the universe trying to find one vanilla bean has never been my thing. just go heavy on the extract.Reply
- Ruby RuckusI just made this today… I used spice island’s pure vanilla extract (about 1 tsp because the vanilla bean jar said 1tsp of extract = 2 inch piece)… It’s delicious. I got the spatula back totally clean from the kids. there wasn’t a drop left on it. They said it was candy! I can only imagine what it would taste like on ice cream . mmmmmReply
- Carolineruby, thanks for the info about substitutions, and I’m so happy to hear that you made the jam!Reply
- JennaI just made this and it’s beautiful, like Summer in a jar and delicious! thank you!Reply
- Carolinejenna, that’s great! I’m so happy you came back and reported on the results.Reply
- Emily EI used this recipe this weekend. This jam was utterly glorious. My mom has always made strawberry freezer jam. It was okay. A little too sweet for my tastes. However, this jam is just sweet enough, but lets that delightful peachy flavor shine through.Reply
- BarbaraMy daughter-in-law and I made a double batch of this for Christmas. Since it is wintertime there are no fresh peaches in the stores around me, so I used canned. The jam is awesome! It has a nice peach flavor and the vanilla bean is wonderful! If you want to save a bit, go get the vanilla bean paste from Williams-Sonoma. For about the same price (around $9) you get much more of the vanilla bean “paste” than from the two beans you get for the same price at the grocery store from the Spice Islands brand. I can’t wait to try making a batch with fresh peaches. I bet the jam will be even better. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the great instructions. It really helped. (This was my first try at cooked jam!)Reply
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- lynnOooh, the vanilla bean addition sounds heavenly. I hope we get enough peaches on our backyard tree this year to try this. Yum.Reply
- sewfrenchOne thing I am always confused about…
Do you start your processing timing when you add the jars to the water bath or after it was returned to a boil? I do have my water simmering when I add my canned goods, if that helps, LOL!Reply
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- deetledeeI’m listening to my jars ping on the counter as I write this. Although I’ve canned soup,veggies and made pickles I’ve had limited experience with making jams. Your tutorial was absolutely wonderful! You showed each step completely, in perfect sequence. And what a perfect pairing of tastes – I licked the spoon and scraped the pot it was sooo tasty! Peaches and vanilla beans, yummmmm. Thank you !Reply
- Carolinethanks so much, I’m glad you liked it. The vanilla really is nice is the combination, it’s a winner 🙂Reply
- Janet HI only have Ball low sugar pectin, do you think this will be a problem to use instead of sure-gel? Im so excited to try this! Peach and Vanilla…YUM!Reply
- Carolinejanet, you’ll have to check the piece of paper inside the ball box. I think it’s fine, but you should read it and see how many cups of sugar they call for for their peach jam recipe and then use what they say. I’m pretty sure both brands use the same process, but you’ll want to glance over their instructions and make sure. the peach and vanilla bean recipe is a real winner, I hope you love it!Reply
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- MollyI just happened upon your recipe while I was on the search for ways to use up a box of peaches that was ripening faster than we could eat them! Boy am I glad I did! My 9 peaches must have been bigger than yours because I ended up with just over 5 cups after I cut it up! lol I also cut my peaches in too big of chunks and ended up throwing the mixture in my blender (vitamix) before adding the last bit of sugar (brought it back up to a boil first, I promise) because I’m not a big fan of super chunky jam. I also used an entire vanilla bean, as I was lucky to get them for a good price. Because of my extra peaches, I ended up with just over 7 – 1/2 pints of jam! Mmmm…I had to stop myself from licking the entire pot to avoid a tummy ache! Soo soo good! Thank you for a great recipe! I’m hoping to share it over on my blog soon!Reply
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- Merryn GalluccioI have just discovered your blog and am going to thoroughly now search it for wonderful ideas. Love your idea of peach and vanilla bean jam, I will file it for next year’s crop. Great reading, thank you. Regards Merryn 😀Reply
- Eileen ArchieI made this recipe as my time canning ever. I only ended with 3 jars instead of 5 so I wondering if I did something wrong. Should it be thick? Mine seems a little loose. I’m afraid to opern and it won’t be good.Reply