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A Jam-Packed Summer

This summer, I'm firmly ensconced in a proverbial jam -- making jam, that is! Peach, nectarine, plum, apricot -- you name it, we jam it! We make and sell a lot of homemade jams at our Fruit Stand. A good friend and I make the different types of jams, jellies and marmalades, some with fancy combinations and some of the plain, good old-fashioned types.

If this summer finds you spending more time in the kitchen, why not try making jam while the fruit is readily available. In fact, next time you're at the farmer's market, ask the fruit growers if they have any "jam-ready" fruit they'd like to get off their hands. Fruit that's just past its prime, a little too soft or that which has a small bruise or two is perfect for the jam pot. They may even sell it to you a bit cheaper!

Even if you've never made jam before, it's really not that difficult. You just have to follow the process and allow the time it takes. I didn't grow up learning how to jam from my grandmother, although today I wish I had. (I spent more time outside on the tractor or playing in the shed, instead of shadowing Grandma in the kitchen.) I started making jam about 10 years ago -- self-taught by following the instructions on the insert in the Sure Jell Pectin box. After seeing a few set-failures, which became tasty fruit syrup, I finally mastered it and have begun to get a bit more creative.

There's no end to what you can do! My jam-making friend lets the plums soak overnight in Merlot wine and makes a delightful Plum Merlot jam. Likewise, her Peach Chardonnay jam is just as popular. Adding habaneros, jalapeños, or red pepper flakes can kick up an otherwise bland apricot-pineapple jam, and it's killer over barbecue pork ribs.

Some of my favorite jams to make are the Peach Cobbler Jam, Peach and Friends (with complimentary fruits like blueberries, nectarines, and cherries), and Peach Marmalade. (Some recipes are included here.)

The most important thing with making jam is to allow a lot of time. Time-consuming tasks include peeling, pitting, and chopping the fruit, standing and stir continuously while it cooks, and to sterilize everything! I prefer to use powdered pectin to help "set" the jam, but it's not necessary. Fruit contains natural pectin and simply macerating the fruit can result in amazing jam. (I just don't have the time to do it that way!)

So, go ahead and try it! If I can do it, you can too. It all starts with good-tasting fruit! Just think of the homemade gifts you can make this summer! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to give me a call at (559) 779-1569 or email: I hope you have a jam-packed summer, too!!!

Liz, her husband Earl, their grown children and their families make up Hudson Farms, a fifth-and sixth-generation family farm in Sanger, CA.


Best of Show Nectarine Jam

  • 3 lbs “ August Fire” Nectarines, to make 4 cups finely chopped fruit

  • Juice from one Lemon, about 2 Tbsp.

  • 5-1/2-cups sugar

  • 1 box of pectin

  • ½ tsp. butter

Sterilize jam jars and lids in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Bring hot water bath

canner to full boiling.

Wash and slice nectarines off pit and finely chop in food processor. Measure exactly 4

cups of chopped nectarines and place in large sauce pan. Stir in lemon juice. In

separate bowl, measure exact amount of sugar and have ready to add later. Heat fruit

mixture, and add pectin and ½ tsp of butter to prevent foaming. Bring mixture to a full

rolling boil, a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred. Stir constantly. Add sugar

when mixture is at full boil. Slowly add sugar and stir constantly. Return to a full rolling

boil and boil exactly one minute while stirring constantly. After one minute, turn off heat

and remove from burner. Ladle immediately into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼-inch

space at top. Wipe rim of jar with hot damp towel to assure a tight seal. Tighten ring

around lid and place filled jars on the rack in a hot water bath canner. Cover, and boil

for 10 minutes. Remove jars and place on towel to cool. Check for sealed lids. If not

sealed, store jar in refrigerator. Makes about 7 one-cup jars.

Processing time: 10 minutes; with preparation time, 45-55 minutes total per batch

Method: Hot Water Bath