Friday, 15 August 2014

Slow Cooker Peach Jam

In the supermarket the other day there was an offer on punnets of peaches... we bought 2 for £3 and decided to give slow cooker jam making a go using them.
Ingredients we used were -

2 punnets of peaches, peeled, stoned and chopped
Juice of half a lemon (about 30ml)
1kg jam sugar (this has pectin already in it and should allow setting)

First, we took the peaches in turn and scored a cross, carefully, on the 'opposite end to the stalk'... actually, this was Sous Chef J's chore.  He did very well and managed to complete the scoring of all 14 of the peaches despite his initial dislike of their hairiness!

Whilst Sous Chef J was hard at work battling his sensory demons and scoring the peaches, I filled a large saucepan with water and brought it to the boil.  We then dropped half the scored peaches into the water and allowed them to bubble for a minute or so before carefully removing them with a slotted spoon. 

Whilst the first batch were cooling, we added the remaining peaches to the pan and repeated the boiling, removing and cooling.  Then, we carefully peeled the (now smooth) skin from the peaches.

Next, I was assigned the task of stone removal and Sous Chef J was 'chopper-upper'.  The halved and stoned peaches were placed in a pyrex dish and Sous Chef J carefully chopped the fruit into smaller pieces.

Having prepared the peaches, Sous Chef J busied himself with getting the juice out of half a lemon.  This came to about 30ml juice and was added to and mixed through the peaches. We put a sideplate in the fridge at this point, to chill for use later...

The peach and juice mix was placed in the slow cooker pot and the sugar was added before being stirred through.  Putting the cooker on low, we placed on the lid and left it for an hour.  After an hour, we stirred the mix and left it for a further hour.

After two hours on low, the sugar had dissolved and, as there was a rather uneven 'peach bit' size noted... so we got out the trusty potato masher and gave the pot a bit of a light bashing.  Probably not in the Mary Berry book of how to make jam but appears to have worked for us!

The slow cooker was then put to the high setting and the jam was left to bubble away with the lid ajar, filling the house with a lovely aroma, for another hour.  Stirring thoroughly and returning the lid to its jaunty angle, we left it again - for an hour.

Now was the time for the 'wrinkle test' to see if it was ready to set... so we retrieved the chilled plate from the fridge, dropped a little of the jam on, left it for the count of 30 and tried to push a finger through it... not a hint of a wrinkle.  So, the mix was stirred, the timer set, and we left it for a further 30 minutes.  Sous Chef J 'tested' the non-wrinkling jam and declared it "delish".

We sterilised some jam jars and their lids by running them through the dishwasher and then putting them in the washing up bowl and filling with boiling water just before we were ready to bottle up the jam.

Finally, after 2 hours on high, the jam wrinkled (very slightly) so was declared ready for bottling... we drained the jam jars (making sure not to touch the insides) and used a non-stick wide funnel to share the jam between the jars.
 We bought the peaches for £3 and the jam was £1.99.  The Kilner jars we used for the jam we were giving away were 75p each (250ml).  The ingredients yielded three 250ml Kilner jars, two 340g jars and one 454g jar plus a small left over "cook's reward" amount of about 100ml.  Approximately 2kg of jam for £5 of ingredients which is £2.50 a kilo (excluding electricity) - whereas the peach jams I found online were
about £5.90 a kilo. 

This made a 'soft set' jam (a bit like the consistency of mango chutney) and it was taste tested on a slice of gluten free seeded toast.  YUMMY!

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