Use fully ripe peaches for the most flavorful jam. They should be soft enough to yield to gentle pressure and have a strong peach aroma (a scentless peach is a tasteless peach).
Even though peaches are a low pectin fruit, the homemade pectin in this recipe ensures a thick, spreadable consistency without an overly long cooking time. The brandy adds depth to the flavor without overwhelming the taste of the fruit.
You can make the pectin extract days ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to one week before making the jam. For longer storage, freeze or can the pectin for future use.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, wash the peaches. Use a paring knife to cut a small "x" into the bottom end of each peach.
- Gently drop the peaches into the boiling water. (The "gently" part is to protect you, not the apricots: you don't want to get splattered with boiling water!) Don't try to crowd them all in because you want the water to be able to circulate freely around the pieces of fruit. After 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to remove the peaches to a colander to drain. Repeat with the remaining peaches.
- The brief blanching will have loosened the skins so that they are easy to strip away from the peach flesh. Once you have peeled all of the peaches, cut the flesh away from the pits into a large pot. Discard the peels and pits. Chop the peeled peaches. Transfer them to a large pot.
- Add the sugar, lemon juice, brandy and homemade pectin to the peaches. Here's how to make citrus pectin or apple pectin.
- Cook the ingredients over high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches the gel point. Remove from the heat.
- Ladle the jam into clean canning jars (it is not necessary to sterilize the jars for this recipe). Leave 1/2-inch head space between the surface of the jam and the rims of the jars. Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a damp paper or cloth towel (any food there could prevent a seal). Screw on the canning lids.
- Process the jars of boozy peach jam in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (adjust the canning time if you live at a high altitude.)
The sealed jars can be stored at room temperature, but once opened, keep them in the refrigerator just as you would with store bought jam. Sealed, the jam will keep for 1 year. The jam is still safe to eat after that, but the quality declines.
Alternatively, skip the canning process and store the jam in clean glass jars (they don't have to be canning jars) in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.