Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Calhoun Peach & Sweet Basil Jam

This past weekend my husband and I headed up to his parents home in southern Illinois to visit friends and family.  Each summer when we go up, we pass roadside stands selling Calhoun peaches.  When I inquired about the signs a few years ago, my husband told me that the peaches grown in Calhoun county are famous for being extra sweet and delicious.  Apparently the area they are grown in is between two rivers, the Illinois and the Mississippi, where moisture from the waters and the limestone bluffs seeps into the soil to make the peaches much more flavorful.  So on our way out of town on Sunday we stopped at a roadside stand so I could get some peaches to can.  This was the result!  The clean herbal flavor of the basil balances the bright sweetness of the peaches.  It made 7 half pint jars, plus 1.5 freezer jars leftover for me.  I enjoyed it equally on toast this morning, and on vanilla ice cream last night. 

Calhoun Peach & Sweet Basil Jam

7 cups sugar
4 cups finely chopped, peeled Calhoun peaches (or whatever peaches you have locally)
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
1 pouch liquid pectin (3 oz)
3/4 cup finely snipped fresh sweet basil (I like to roll it up and snip it with kitchen sheers)

Prepare a hot water bath canner & 7 half-pint jars. 

In a 6-8 qt pot combine the sugar, peaches and lemon juice.  Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. 

Quickly stir in the pectin.  Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Boil for 1 minute. 

Remove from heat.  Skim foam from the top with a metal spoon, and stir in the basil.

Ladle the hot jam into hot sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4" head space.  Wipe the jar rims, adjust lids, and apply screw bands until fingertip tight.

Process filled jars in the water bath for 5 minutes.  (Start timing once the water returns to boiling.)  Turn off heat and remove lid from canner, leaving jars in the water an additional 5 minutes.  Remove the jars to a folded kitchen towel, and allow to rest away from drafts for 24 hours.

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