We are having some lagging summer Fruit that needed to be "dealt with". I know that sounds really negative as if our fruit was throwing a temper tantrum and needed to go in time out. That's not the case at all. But we had some fresh, late-season strawberries we froze quite a bit ago and I had a handful of late season peaches languishing in the fruit bowl. I also had what was left of my beautiful basil plants in the garden. The nights are getting colder and colder, so I thought it best to harvest what I could from my basil and combine all these three summer flavors into a lovely jam for holiday gifts in a few months. (I know, it's hard to believe the holidays are around the corner!
Brace yourself. Eggnog everything is coming.)
Through my jam making life, I have (painfully) learned the difference between liquid Pectin and powder pectin. I use liquid pectin if I want a softer set on my jam. I use the powder for a firmer set. I know that's an uber-simplified approach to pectin. It can get pretty complicated-like does your fruit have its own pectin-like cranberries? Then you don't need any pectin or maybe use the liquid pectin. Do you want to lower the crazy amount of sugar in jam making? Well, you better get the low sugar pectin, because sugar has to do with proper setting with the pectin.
Don't freak out. Jam making is actually pretty easy. If it sets looser than you want, who cares. I am sure it still tastes good. My father prefers a looser jam because he likes it on his pancakes and waffles. SO if yours doesn't set, no big deal. And you can skip the preserving part if you want to store the jam in the fridge and just make a small batch. I know of some fellow book club members who don't even hot water bath theirs but freeze their jars. But I prefer to have my jam shelf stable so I can use them as gifts to teachers and neighbors and hostesses.
There is plenty of late summer fruit out there people. Preserve what you can now, to warm up those cold winter months around the corner! And for this recipe, frozen strawberries can work just fine if you can't find farm fresh strawberries anymore.
Peach Strawberry Basil Jam
3 pounds peaches, peeled and sliced with pits removed
2 quarts of strawberries hold and rinsed
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
12 cups of sugar
7 tablespoons of powdered fruit pectin
2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped (if only adding it to half the batch, double it if you're going to add it to the whole batch)
Mash the fruit in a large stock pot using a potato masher. Mix in the lemon juice. Put the pot on a medium-high flame.
Stir in pectin. Bring to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.
Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.