Mom and I bought a half bushel of ripe orchard peaches the other day. There is absolutely nothing like a fresh, ripe peach. They are so sweet, tasty and slightly tart. A good ripe peach is slightly soft and so juicy that sticky hands and face can't be helped when eating one.
After eating our fill of fresh peaches I wanted to make some preserves or jam. I looked through several cookbooks and then came up with a combination of my own: Peach Orange Marmalade. I thought the citric taste of the orange blended with peach would be a good combination. This recipe does not use pectin and will remain soft set (like preserves), rather than jelled like a pectin jam will.
Peach Orange Marmalade
First, prepare orange peel, orange segments and chopped peaches. Using a coarse grater, grate all the peel off of the two oranges. Do not grate too deeply into the oranges surface to avoid the pithy white membrane between the peel and the orange fruit. Then peel all the white pith and membrane from orange and separate sections of the orange, cutting off any excess membranes. Peel and chop peaches into small chunks. Peaches can be peeled using a method of dipping into boiling water for a minute and then rinsing in cold water. After the peach is cool enough to touch, the peel can be pulled off, rather than cut off resulting in less wasted fruit.
Place chopped peaches, orange peel and orange sections into a dutch oven or a 4-quart non-reactive pan. Add five cups sugar, stir and heat to boiling over medium heat. Simmer for 45 minutes stirring often and squishing peach chunks so it will all combine more thoroughly.
Heat water in large pot to use for the hot water bath. If hard water is an issue, adding a tablespoon of vinegar to the water will help keep jars sparkling. Dip the clean jars into the boiling water bath for a couple of minutes, then take out and immediately fill with jam using a ladle and funnel. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Please read the USDA guidelines for canning safely, or glean information from "Putting Food By", if you aren't familiar with the canning process.
After processing is complete, use tongs to pull the jars out of the hot water and sit on a towel on the counter. During the next 24 hours turn the jars upside down 3-4 times. This will help keep the jam combined and ensure that solid pieces won't float up to the top and remain there. This can be a problem, especially with peach jam.
This makes a delicious spread to use on buttered biscuits, rolls or toast. I'll be happy to have this taste of summer to share and enjoy during those cold winter months!