Jul 23 2011

Adventures in Canning: Ginger Peach Jam

I’m so hot right now that I’m tempted to write:  yum peaches.  yum ginger.  And just share the pictures, encouraging you to get the peaches this weekend but hold off on making the jam until Monday or Tuesday when the heat abates (some).

In my effort to not succumb to cavewoman typing mumblings, I will say that I intentionally made this peach jam to be chunky.  I like to look at my jams and be able to see actual fruit pieces in them, and so this jam is almost like stewed peaches, yet incredibly spreadable and refreshing.  Justin remarked that he could also see himself using it as a crostini topping--to which I say, go for it, we have 6 jars!

I sealed my jars with Rachel Saunder’s preferred method of oven sterilization and sealing.  If you search for oven based canning, it won’t take you long before you stumble into a stunning number of websites and blogs cautioning you to never can using this method.  As with anything, see for yourself.  The most frequent negatives I’ve heard about oven canning are:  your glass jars could explode and your seal could be compromised if the jar doesn’t heat the whole way through.

My thoughts:  I sterilized and then sealed my jars at 250 degrees.   They weren’t even close to exploding--think about when you bake lasagna.  Has your lasagna dish ever exploded?  (I hope not).  A compromised seal can occur if your oven has irregular heat.  Get an over thermometer and see if your oven registers a different temperature than what you’ve turned your dial to.  Bake (or in this case, seal) according to what your thermometer says.  For this most recent batch, all of the jars sealed except for one.  And the jar that didn’t seal was my own fault--I didn’t have the metal circle on evenly.

Sometimes when something sounds too good to be true, it is.  So far, I’m pleased with oven canning.  The benefits are huge:

  1. I don’t have to heat up gallons of water to sterilize and seal my jars.
  2. I don’t have to burn myself on the boiling water when lifting the jars with slippery tongs.
  3. It’s quicker to can in the oven.  You need to have your jars in the oven for at least 30 minutes before you can put the prepared food in them.  I’ve found that heating up the amount of water I need to can takes 45 minutes or more.

I haven’t completely turned away from water bath canning, but I’m thrilled to have another option.

See below for more specific instructions on oven based canning.

Ginger Peach Jam

Makes 5-6 cups

Loosely Adapted from Put Em Up!


1.5 cups sugar

1 tablespoon Pomona’s Universal Pectin

1 cup water

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

4 lbs of fresh, juicy peaches

1.5 tablespoons of grated ginger

1 tablespoon calcium water (included in the pectin box)


  1. Stir the sugar and pectin in a bowl and set aside.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  While waiting for the water to boil, prepare an ice bath in another large (half ice half water).   Put two spoons and a saucer in your freezer.
  2. Once the water is boiling, use tongs to put 2-3 peaches into the water for 10-15 seconds.  Remove the peaches with the tongs and submerge in the ice bath.  Repeat for the remaining peaches.  The goal is to loosen the peach skins for easy peeling.
  3. Combine the water (from the ingredient list) and lemon juice in a large, non reactive pot.
  4. Drain the peaches, before peeling, pitting, and dicing them.  Add your diced peaches to the lemon water as you go.
  5. When you’ve diced all of the peaches, bring the entire mixture to a boil.  Add the ginger and slowly simmer for 5 minutes.  Mash the mixture lightly and then stir in the sugar-pectin mixture.
  6. Return to a boil before adding the calcium water.  Simmer your mixture for 30 minutes (or more).  Stir fairly continuously and mash as you go.  As I’ve shared in the past, use the spoon in the freezer test, to determine if your jam is the consistency you desire.

Are you storing it?

Using a stainless steel spoon to transfer the jam into its storage containers. Let cool on the counter before putting into the refrigerator.  Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Are you canning it?

Ladle into oven sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  (To sterilize your jars in the oven, heat your oven to 250 degrees before placing your jars and lids onto cookie sheets.  Keep in the oven for at least 30 minutes, but longer is fine, too.)

After filling your jars and securing the lids (use gloves if the jars are too hot to handle) carefully put the jars back on the cookie sheet(s) for 15 minutes.

Remove the jars from the oven keeping them on their sheet(s).  Put the sheet on a wire rack and cool them over night.  They will seal as they cool.