Today would have been my grandfather’s 108th birthday. God love him~he lived until he was 99 3/4 and died peacefully while eating his second dessert. We could all be so lucky.
This time of year, I grieve his loss as he was the man who planted the seeds of faith into my spirit then cultivated them as I grew from young girl into young woman into commissioned deaconess. I loved that man dearly.
In memory of him today, I am reposting this tale and recipe. Secretly, I’ll be opening my last jar of ginger peach jam tonight and lifting a spoon to this gentle spirit I lovingly called “Pop.”
Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.
Once upon a time there was a little girl who, every summer, was surrounded by peaches. That was a delight to most children as they loved the first bite of the hot Southern summer peach that filled their mouths with sweet flesh and caused sticky juice to trickle down their chins. But, it was not a delight to this child. In spite of living in the South, she did not like peaches, and to her dismay, her sister adored the fruit.
When summer came, their mother would take them to the local farmer’s market where they’d buy corn and beans and tomatoes and peaches. Bushels of peaches (well, really it was only one bushel according to the storyteller’s mother, but the basket filled two sinks!). Peaches would be peeled and sliced then frozen in thick plastic bags which meant that the fruit became the staple of winter morning breakfasts.
Peaches not only graced their table on a regular basis but were also revered by her grandfather at holiday feasts. “Who can resist spiced peaches?” he’d ask her then stick his fork in the jar and pull out another slimy, orange treat. Ewww!
Being a Southern girl, people could not believe that she did not like peaches. Adults raised their eyebrows when she politely turned down the fruit at friends’ houses. While she longed for watermelon or strawberries, most children around her craved peaches, fresh or canned. (and don’t get her started on the canned ones–ugh!)
Eventually, this child grew into a mama herself. At a very young age, her daughter began developing an affinity for peaches–whether it was baby food, fresh fruit, or juice, her little girl could not get enough! “Oh no! Whatever will I do?” she exclaimed.
Well, she did what her mama had done and ran to the farmer’s market, bought a bushel of peaches and spent one very hot summer night boiling, peeling, and freezing peaches. Soon enough, her freezer was stocked, but she still had too much of the sweet, juicy fruit left.
Then she remembered her Pop eating those spiced peaches at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
She wasn’t sure if she could get anyone to try such a delicacy so she did the next best thing instead–she created a ginger peach jam recipe to honor her Pop. And while she has developed an acquired taste for raw peaches, she can’t get enough of this sweet treat.
And so, ginger peach jam was born and has become a hallmark in her family of jams. Whether you are a Southerner, just fond of peaches or simply want to try a new jam recipe, I guarantee you–this one is delightful.
I don’t know about peaches making life a little less boring, but this ginger peach jam sure does a number on homemade frozen yogurt or grilled salmon!
Growing Grace Farm’s Ginger Peach Jam~a tribute to my Pop
8-10 very ripe peaches (don’t worry if bruised, they’ll still be sweet and delicious!)
4-5 cups of sugar–depends on your taste–I prefer less sugar and use a fruit pectin for low sugar recipes
Fruit pectin (I use the pectin for low sugar recipes)
Fresh ginger and candied ginger
Cloves (if you like that flavor–I don’t use it as I don’t like it)
Blanche the peaches to assist with removing skins. Cool them in ice water–they will get hot and can burn your hands. Peel the peaches and cut into slices in a bowl. Add 2 cups sugar, at least 1 tsp fresh ginger, and 2 tbsp finely chopped candied ginger then let sit for at least 30 min.
When done, pour the peach/sugar mix into a food processor and process to a texture of your liking. Pour into a big pot and add at least another 2 cups of sugar, the juice of the lemon, some of the lemon pulp (adds natural pectin), and your fruit pectin for low sugar (or add more sugar and use regular fruit pectin per directions on box). Add cinnamon to taste and another 2+ tbsp of minced candied ginger.
Prepare your cans for canning. I use the hot water bath method.
Let your peach mixture cook on a medium heat (rolling boil but not so hot that it burns to bottom), stirring as needed for at least 20 minutes. NOTE: a pat of butter will help keep the bubbling to a minimum and will not affect the recipe.
When you can dip in a cold fork, turn it upside down, and the jam hardens before it gets all the way down the tines, then it’s ready. Spoon off the bubbles that have formed on top. Your jam should have a beautiful shiny, translucent color underneath.
Can your jam according to a safe canning method. I use the hot water boil method again.
Store in a cool, dry location.