Blackberry, Peach, and Ginger Jam
Jam is one of my favorite things to make. And this particular jam recipe is the perfect lazy day recipe because it requires very little action, just patience. While a simple jam made from, say, just raspberries and sugar can be beautifully simple and flavorful, I prefer jams whose flavors are a little more robust. And in the words of jam enthusiast Technotronic, "Pump up the jam, pump it up." Technotronic, I couldn't agree more. Thank you for the inspiration.
This jam of blackberries and peaches is "pumped" up by the addition of freshly grated ginger and I love this concoction SO dearly I would jump in front of a bus for it. This jam happened by accident about two years ago. I had made a peach pie and WAY over shot the amount of peaches that would fit inside so I was left with a bowl full of peaches that were going to go bad if I didn't use them for something. On top of that, I had boxes of blackberries in the fridge (I always keep them around since they are my favorite snack). AND I had leftover fresh ginger from a stir-fry and had NO idea what to do with it. I started out just with the peaches and blackberries in the pot and let that cook down for a little bit, but it took me a solid ten minutes to get up the courage to add the ginger. I didn't want to ruin a good thing by adding something I was unsure of. Well, THANK GOD I did. The tablespoon of fresh ginger that I added was the perfect amount to make this jam unique and far more interesting than a basic fruit jam. I added the cinnamon and nutmeg to add warming flavors to compliment the tang of the ginger, and the cream of tartar is just a stabilizing ingredient so that the jam sets correctly without having to use gelatin.
*A note on jam setting: The best part about jam is that you can make it as runny or firm as you like. On a low temperature, you can continue to cook out the liquid in the jam until it has the consistency of paste, or you can cook it JUST until it starts to gel and have a runny, goopy mess to dip bread or pastries into. To test the "done-ness" of your jam, you can do two things. The first is the spoon test. Dip the back of a spoon into the jam, then run your finger down the middle of the spoon. If the mark of your finger through the jam holds, then your jam has cooked enough and will set nicely: not too runny, not too firm. If the mark disappears because the jam spreads back out, you might want to continue cooking it for another five minutes, then check it again. Another way to test your jam is the plate test. Put a plate in the freezer for at least five minutes before testing. When the plate is ready, take it out and put one drop of jam right into the middle of the plate. After 10-15 seconds, tilt the plate on its side. If the drop doesn't run down the plate, then it has set enough. If the jam does run down the plate, cook for another five minutes, and then do the test again.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. It is one of my favorite things to make and favorite things to eat, and it is always a big hit with company!
6 peaches, peeled and cubed
18 oz. blackberries
1 Tbsp ginger, finely minced
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1. Place all of your ingredients in (at least) a four-quart pot. Mix the ingredients to make sure they are well combined and that the seasonings are completely dispersed throughout. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
2. Once the mixture comes to a boil, cook it for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure that the fruit doesn't burn to the bottom of your pan
3. After ten minutes, it's time to make some big boy decisions. If you want your jam UBER chunky, just mash the cooked fruit in your pan using the back of your mixing spoon or a potato masher. If you like a smooth jam, you can transfer the jam (in batches) into a food processor, or use an immersion blender.
I like a decent amount of pulp in my jam, so I use my immersion blender to take care of any medium-large sized chunks in the jam. The added bonus to blending the whole blackberries is that it breaks open the blackberry seeds, releasing pectin which will also help your jam "set".
Alternatively, if you are looking for a more translucent jam, you could mash the jam with the back of a spoon/potato masher and then pour the jam through a wire sieve into another pot and place it back on the heat. This will give you a smooth jam with no pulp. This will also keep your jam "clearer" since you wouldn't be grinding up seeds into the jam, causing the jam to take on an opaque quality. Without the added pectin from the blackberry seeds being blended in, you may have to cook this mixture on the stove for a few more minutes
4. After blending your jam, or not, keep it at a simmer on your stove top and perform the previously mentioned SPOON TEST. If the mark left by your finger stays, then your jam has cooked enough to gel when it lowers to room temperature. If not, cook for another 5-10 minutes and try again until it is successful.
5. Let your jam cool and start eating! If you know how to can properly and are comfortable doing it, go ahead and can your jam. If not, you can keep the jam in an airtight container in your fridge for 2 weeks (but I doubt it will be around long enough to expire)!