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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Peach Jelly

We love Jam on our Fuffins. (That's English Muffins for those of you without a 2-year-old in your house.) Each morning when I offer some of my homemade Jam to my kids, I am corrected by my pre-teeny-7-year-old, "Mom. It's JELLY!" Okay. Whatever.

This got me thinking. What am I eating? Jelly or Jam? I never really thought about the difference. So I had to look it up. Here's what I discovered.

Jelly, Jam and Preserves are all made from a combination of fruit, sugar and pectin. All three are obviously sugar fruit based (it's definitely more like sugar-based) but the fruit takes on different forms. Jelly is fruit juice. Jam is crushed fruit. Preserves is fruit pieces.

So, now that we have gotten that all cleared up, I make Peach JELLY. (Shh! Don't tell my son that he is right!). Here's how I make it...I use the same method as Carmen, over at Raising Homemakers.

Start out by preparing your half-pint jars and lids. (Easiest way is to put them through a dishwasher cycle, or you can fire up the canner and boil them.)

This jelly is made from the leftover skins and pits from making canned peaches! I had been working with 20lbs of peaches, which is going to be enough for 2 batches of Jelly.

Ingredients (for 1 batch):
4 cups peach juice (which is what I made with my skins and pits)
1/2 tsp butter
1 package of pectin
5 1/2 cups sugar
Canning Jars, Lids, Rings

I dumped my skins and pits into my stock pot so that I would have lots of height room for boiling and possible foaming. I filled the pot with enough water to cover the skins and pits and set it to boil. Once it was boiling, I turned it down to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Let it cool.Then I turned it off and let it cool a bit so it wouldn't be scary to work with.

I used my strainer to get out all of the juice. 4 cups per batch is what I needed. It would have been okay to add a little bit of water to get to 4, but not too much. I believe I had to add about 1/2 cup to the 2nd batch's juice.

I put the juice back into my stock pot with the pectin and butter. The butter helped it not to foam too much. 

I stirred it on high heat until it was to a FULL ROLLING BOIL. This is really important. You want it really going like in the picture. Once again, this is why I used my tall stock pot.

I added all of my sugar at once and then returned the mixture to a full, rolling boil again. I let it boil like that for a full 1 minute (again very important). The whole time it was boiling I kept stirring it so that the sugar wouldn't burn at the bottom.

After the mixture boiled for one minute, I took it off the burner, set the timer and let it cool for 5 minutes. No more than that because I wanted my liquid hot and my jars and lids still hot and sterile. While that was going on, I prepared my jars and lids. I set the pot right next to my workspace for pouring into jars. Everything was on hotpads and towels. I skimmed the foam off the top of the jelly and then carefully funneled it into each jar, leaving a 1/4 inch head space. I had a little bit leftover, so I just put that jar in the fridge for breakfast the next day since that jelly wouldn't be able to be preserved.

After I poured the jelly into a jar, I wiped off the sticky rim with a damp dishcloth, dried the lid and then hand-tightened it down with a ring. Then I flipped the jar over *upside-down* to help with the sealing process. Each jar, one at a time, ended up like this, about an inch apart on the towel. After the last jar was flipped I set the timer for 5 minutes. When it beeped, I turned them right-side up and waited to hear the pops! These jelly jars don't need to be processed in a canner, if done properly they seal all by themselves!