Peach Rosemary Jam
My intention to make apricot lavender jam this summer quickly shifted when I saw the young peaches forming on the tree that was given to me by one of my gardener friends when it was a baby tree, 4 years ago.
When she offered me the tree that emerged from her compost pile, I hesitated but was interested in finding out the result of this experimentation. So with open arms, I welcomed it and nestled it in a wooden box with plenty of humus. I then placed its planter between the south wall of the house and the property fence, where heat radiates all day long.
I never, ever imagined that we would end up harvesting 80 peaches (and counting) this year, when we had a grand total of only had 4 peaches last year. I cannot tell you how pleased I have been with the result! We have been happily eating the raw, sliced fruit, accompanied with a generous dollop of yogurt plus sprinkles of flax seed meal and chia seeds, as a healthy breakfast. In the effort not to lose the fruits, I had to make preserves, and decided to pack them with summer’s remnant: rosemary and ginger. We also prepared peach galettes for a spontaneous gathering when our friends suddenly decided to come by!
Although my peach tree seems to be doing great, I still don’t recommend that you sprout the pit of an organic peach that you bought from the store. As a practical tip for small urban gardens, I strongly suggest that you source your fruit trees from local nurseries where they carry varieties suitable to the microclimate of your region. Plant fruit trees with desirable traits such as hardiness, disease/ pest resistance, etc. that are grafted onto rootstocks that also have dwarf characters; such precautions will help ensure the proper, healthy growth of your trees. Indeed, if you follow this advice you should reap the benefits of more production, which results in greater efficiency and longevity of the tree. Take it from me, it is very disappointing when trees perform poorly after a few years of lavishing them with TLC, and even worse when you eventually, have to eliminate them due to diseases, etc. *FYI, as a final note, do not plant the grafted part below the soil as the top part of the tree can grow roots and revert back to the original size!
Peach Rosemary Jam
When paired with Brie and smeared on nutty crackers, this jam makes a great appetizer or fancy snack.
Makes 6 x 250ml jars
10 cups peaches, crushed (I throw it into a Vitamix for 5 sec.)
1 apple, unpeeled, cut into wedges including the core, then roughly chopped
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
A few small knobs of ginger, peeled
2 teaspoons fresh or dried rosemary, finely chopped
6 cups granulated sugar or more*
A pinch of salt
* Depending on the amount of juice you get from peaches. The rule of a thumb is that the proportion of the sugar in preserves needs to be 60 % or higher in order to prevent it from spoiling.
Sterilize the jars. I immerse the jars in a large pot filled with water and bring it to a roiling boil for at least 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Remove the hot jars, draining well, and then place on a baking sheet in the oven set to the lowest possible temperature (in my case, 170F) until the jam is ready to be poured. You can flip the jars once to ensure even drying. By the time the jam is ready, the jars will be nicely dried. Sterilize the lids in boiling water and dry as well.
Place a small plate in a refrigerator (you are going to use this in order to test the setting point later). Place the peach, apple and lemon juice in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, and bring to a boil. Make a few slits in the knobs of ginger and add to the pot along with the rosemary. Simmer until apple pieces are soft. Skim off the scum as needed.
Add the sugar, stir to dissolve and bring to a boil. Add the salt, and boil rapidly without stirring until the setting point is reached, for about 10 to 15 minutes. Test the setting point by dropping a small amount of the jam onto the cooled plate. Let sit for a bit, then using your fingertip, gently push the jam. If it crinkles, it is set. In order to make smooth-textured jam, I removed apple pieces and peels from the jam (and served it with sharp cheddar cheese next day). The apple was needed for its high pectin content to help the peach jam to set.
Remove the jam from the heat. Remove the jars from the oven. Pour the hot jam into the warm sterilized jars and seal tightly. Store in a cool, dry place and use up within 12 months or so. Once open, the jam should be refrigerated.