As far as I’m concerned, the world falls into two camps, those who love Habanero Peach Jam, and those who are still living in the dark ages. If you’ve never had the pleasure then you’re in for an experience. This isn’t a jam for your morning toast, this is for the cocktail hour — with some fluffy cream cheese and a crisp cracker, it’s addictive. And that’s not just me saying that, it’s a well documented phenomenon.
The beauty of these European style jams that Elisa introduced me to is that they encourage spontaneity. They are so quick and easy you can whip up a small batch any time you get the urge. I had a bag of about 8 peaches from the farmer’s market, and that yielded four 1/2 pint jars. I’m completely hooked.
In fact Habanero Peach is the perfect jam to make when you only have a few peaches; it’s so powerfully flavored that a little goes a long way. One small jar will transform a plate of cheese and crackers into a party. You will definitely make converts of any of your friends who haven’t tried it before. By the way, this jam makes a great host/hostess gift, too.
I must have grabbed two different varieties of peaches by mistake because when I peeled and sliced them they were different colors…pretty!
Be sure to wash well after cutting the habanero, in fact you probably have to wash more than once. I make the mistake every time. But don’t worry too much about the heat; once it’s cooked into the jam its bark is worse than its bite. The sweetness of the sugar and the peaches counteracts it a bit.
- I considered adding a bit of cider vinegar to this batch, but didn’t. I would like to try that next time to see how it affects the flavor. This jam is perfectly sweet/hot, but I would like to try a touch of vinegar to give it a tangy edge as well. I would use cider vinegar, and maybe start with just a few tablespoons, especially with such a small amount of peaches.
Addictive, I tell you. Don’t run out of cream cheese or crackers or you’ll be sorry…
As promised, I’m also bringing you Elisa’s recipe for Vanilla Peach Jam, this is just the way she sent it along to me. It requires special jam making sugar, which contains added pectin. This is common in Europe but not here in the states. I couldn’t find it anywhere either online or in stores. I’m assuming that this jam could also be made with equal parts peaches and regular sugar. The combination of peach and vanilla sounds heavenly for scones or biscuits.
Elisa’s Vanilla Peach Jam
Peel the peaches and cute them in quarters. Put them in a big pan, with half their weight in special, high pectin content, sugar. Mix and mash the fruit a bit. Let the mixture stand for a few hours. In the meantime, prepare clean glass jars to be filled. When you start heating the mixture, add vanilla beans that you have previously sliced open along their lengths (roughly 2 beans for 1kg fruit). Boil until you are satisfied, doing the cold plate test regularly. Pour the hot liquid in the jars. Cut the vanilla sticks in halves, and put one half in each jar. Close the jars and turn them upside down.
- 4 1/2 pint jars
- 1 lb 5 oz peeled and pitted peaches
- 2 habanero peppers, seeds and all, finely minced
- 1 lb 5 oz sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- Put your jars through the hot cycle of the dishwasher to clean. You can reuse the glass jars, but always purchase new lids for each new batch of jam. This is to ensure that they seal properly. (They sell extra lids right next to the jars in the grocery store.)
- Peel and slice your peaches over a bowl, to catch the juices.
- Weigh the peaches and then weigh out the same amount of sugar.
- Put the peaches, sugar, habanero peppers and lemon juice in a large heavy bottomed pot. Stir to combine everything and mash the peaches a bit with a large wooden spoon or potato masher.
- Let sit for an hour.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, and boil for approximately 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently. It will foam up for most of the time, and eventually, when the jam is nearly ready, the foam will die down.
- Check to see if the jam is ready by dropping a small amount on a very cold plate. When it is ready it will jel as it cools on the plate.
- When you are satisfied with the jelling, ladle the hot jam into clean jars, filling almost to the top. Put the lids on, but don't screw them too tightly, and immediately set the jars upside down.
- Let the jars cool, and then turn them right side up and refrigerate.