If you've been reading our blog, you know that I have a slight jam obsession. Hands-down, it is my most favorite way to use up any not-so-perfect fruit that I have kicking around the house. And if you have little kids like we do, you know that sometimes not-so-perfect fruit can cause a case of the willies for your picky eaters. So instead of listening to my beloveds gripe about a "sort-of squishy cherry", I just toss it into my big 'ole jam making pot and see what happens when it all boils down.
The other day, I was getting ready to make a batch of my Strawberry Peach Jam. I had some lovely peaches that I was dying to use up, but while I was gathering up my supplies, I found a forgotten bag of cherries in the bottom of my refrigerator. They were not going to pass the "blemish-free test", but they were perfectly good to eat, so I switched gears and decided to make some Cherry Peach Jam instead.
The kids were making me a bit batty (we've entered the "Don't Touch Me / I'm Not Touching You Stage"), so I called them into the kitchen and put them to work. They've never pitted cherries before, so we got out my favorite OXO cherry pitter and went to town. It was a great fine motor skill task and an exercise in sharing! Better yet - they each got to have a terrific sensory experience as they peeled the peaches in the water bath. (Ewwwwww! They're so slimy! It's like their flesh is falling off. Gross! Cool!)
I often forget how many learning skills go into making food, so it was a wonderful learning experience for us all. I even stepped outside of my comfort zone and took a stab at using powdered pectin. Although I won't use it all of the time, it definitely helps the jam set up, so I'll keep it in mind when using softer fruits that need some help.
This jam is a little bit sweet and a little bit tart too. I could have eaten an entire jar of it all by myself, but instead, I kept throwing elbows with my husband each morning to see who could finish it first. (If you would like to learn more about Freezer jam, read my Strawberry Freezer Jam post from May; I go into more detail there.)
CHERRY PEACH FREEZER JAM
Yield: 4, 12 ounce Ball Jars
* 2 1/2 cups fresh Bing cherries, pitted and halved (40-50 cherries)
* 7 large peaches (4 cups chopped)
* 2 cups white sugar
* 4 tablespoons pectin powder
Step 1: Wash all fruit thoroughly. Using a cherry pitter like OXO, pit the cherries. Save any juice.
Step 2: Bring a large stockpot of water to boil. While you wait, using a sharp paring knife, make an X on the top and bottom of your peaches. Carefully place the peaches into the boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and flush with cold water until water and peaches are cool enough to handle. Then, using your fingers, rub the peach skin off - it should slide right off. Roughly chop peaches and set aside.
Step 3: Using a large pot, heat the cherries and juice, peaches, white sugar and pectin over medium high heat. Stirring often, cook for approximately 10 minutes, then smash fruit with a potato smasher. (If you like your jam more smooth-textured than chunky, you can remove some of the heated fruit at this point and chop it up in a blender. But be careful. To make sure you don't get burned, cover the blender lid with a towel - the heated fruit and steam can burn pop the lid off.)
Step 4: Place a small plate in the freezer while you're cooking the jam. Cook jam for approximately 5 more minutes.
Step 5: At the 15 minute mark, place a small dollop of jam onto the frozen plate and return it back to the freezer for 3 minutes. Remove the plate and run your finger through the jam. If the line "holds", your jam is good to go. It will also thicken up some more in the fridge.
Step 6: You can store the jam in any kind of clean, sterilized, freezer-safe container: plastic bags, glass jam jars, plastic containers (like Tupperware) or glass containers (like Pyrex). It’s best to use jars (or containers) with wide mouths and straight neck. When filling, make sure to leave ½-inch of room at the top for expansion upon freezing. Leave jam sitting out at room temperature for 1-2 hours to let it cool down before putting it in the freezer - or refrigerator if you plan on eating it asap.
Do you have a favorite Freezer Jam post that you would like to share with our readers? Please do! I'm always on the hunt for new recipes to try!