Keep summer around all year with homemade Peach Jam. Hints of vanilla and bourbon compliment the naturally sweet peaches. Canning is easier than you think and makes breakfast worth getting up for. A great idea for a hostess or holiday gifts.
Summer is NOT over in my book until the peaches are gone, and the orchards in North Carolina still have plenty in the early fall. Just because school is back in session doesn’t mean we have to say good-bye to summer just yet.
I’ve been making this easy peach jam recipe without pectin all summer and I have a large basket of peaches ripening on my counter for another batch. It’s easy to experiment with jam recipes when you live so close to peach orchards.
It’s great for more than just toast, try it on chicken, or as a glaze for a peach cake, and of course it’s amazing on biscuits.
When making jam, it’s best to have ripe peaches, you can have a few that aren’t fully ripe, those not quite ripe peaches will have more natural pectin. But in order to keep your added sugar down, you want to have wonderfully sweet peaches.
Peaches will ripen off the tree, so If you’ve come home with peaches that aren’t quite ready for jam, here are some tips for how to ripen peaches.
Everyone that I’ve shared my peach preserves with has raved about it and it’s my favorite of all the jams I’ve tried so far for spreading on oatmeal bread. This has definitely been the summer of jams. My summers start with strawberry jam, because there’s nothing better on a PB&J then homemade strawberry jam, and end with peach jam.
I don’t eat a lot of jam, but when I do, I want it to taste like fruit and not just seasoned sugar. Don’t get me wrong, you have to have sugar to make jam, but some of the old recipe books have an equal amount of sugar to fruit, YIKES.
After working with the consistency and taste, I finally chose to go with 21/2 cups of sugar for 8 cups of peaches and it seems about right. This makes the perfect small batch recipe with a lot less sugar than what you will find at the grocery store. Taste your jam as you go and if your peaches are tart, then you might need a little more sugar.
Why you’ll love it
- It’s fantastic on oatmeal bread
- It’s low in sugar so you can really taste the peaches
- The bourbon and vanilla really make the peach flavor shine
- Homemade jam makes a great gift
The jam alone with just sugar and lemon juice tastes like fresh fruit so don’t think you have to add anything else to it. But if you really want to jazz things up add the vanilla bean and at the end some bourbon.
Now if you aren’t a bourbon fan, start out with a small amount and taste it until you get just the right combination. I don’t like bourbon to drink but I love the milder flavor of Hibiki for flavoring.
Of course you can leave the bourbon out all together and just make peach vanilla jam. You don’t have to can this, if that seems too much for you, just freeze it. I promise that canning jam does not have to be scary.
What you’ll need
- Fresh Peaches– any variety will do. Try to get a mixture so that most are very ripe and a couple are not as ripe.
- Fresh Lemon juice
- Vanilla bean
- Bourbon – totally optional, start out using just a little and taste until it has the flavor you like.
- Large stock pot for canning – this will need to be larger than a Dutch oven. A water bath canner is the best as it will be deep enough to cover the jars.
You do not have to can this jam, you can simply put it in the freezer where it will last a year. But if you don’t have room in your freezer, then canning is the way to go. If this is the first time you have canned jam, I’ve provided easy directions. You will need a few supplies, but they are not too expensive.
How to make peach jam without pectin
Start out with a a water bath canner, you can get one on Amazon for about $40, it’s really nice for other things, like making a seafood boil. The supplies that you can order for $20 include a jar lifter and a magnetic tool that allows you to place the lids on the jars without having to touch them.
Fill the canning pot with enough water to cover whatever size jar you are using and bring it to a full rolling boil. This can take a LONG time so start this first. If it comes to a full boil before you’re ready, just turn off the stove and keep it covered. Then when you’re ready, it will only take a minute to heat back up.
For this jam, you can either make it chunky or puree it in a blender or with an immersion blender depending on how you like your jam, but you will start out with small chunks of peaches and then mash them with a potato masher as they heat up in a large pot, I like to use a Dutch oven. You will need peeled peaches for fresh peach jam.
Once you’ve added the sugar they will need to cook over medium heat until it thickens. This can take from 15-25 minutes depending on how juicy the peaches are.
You’ll know it’s done when it is slightly thickened and it sizzles when you pull the spoon through it. How’s that for being precise! It will thicken more as it cools.
While the peaches are cooking and your water has boiled, add the jars to the boiling water to sterilize them for a few minutes. Then take them out and place them on a clean towel to dry. For the lids, I scoop out some boiling water and put it in a small pan and just put my lids in the hot water for a few minutes. Then take them out and place them on a clean towel to dry.
When the jam has thickened pour the hot jam hit into the jars, wipe the rims clean with a paper towel and then place the sterilized lids on top.
Screw the outside ring on, but not super tight. Place them in your pot and boil them for 5 minutes.
Remove and let them sit on the counter, you should hear the lids pot as they seal. Sometimes this takes a few minutes. Yo will know it has sealed if is no indentation on the top. If you can push down the center it didn’t seal. You will need to refrigerate any that did not seal and eat right away or freeze it.
This will produce about four 6 ounce jars of jam. If you want to double the recipe, just make sure you have a pot large enough so that they don’t boil over.
I hope the amazing flavors of this jam will inspire you to try your hand at canning, it’s so much easier than I thought it would be and now I have enough jam to enjoy all year, especially on Buttermilk Biscuits and enough to give away as gifts. There’s nothing like having a few jars of peach jam in your pantry in the middle of winter.
For guidelines on safe canning techniques refer to The Complete Guide to Home Canning put out by the USDA, it’s a free download and will be sure to answer all of your questions.
FAQs and tips
You can add lemon juice and it will thicken without pectin.
Peaches do have natural pectin, they will have more when they are not fully ripe.
Look for peaches that have good color and that smell like a peach. They will ripen as long as they have no green color. Get more tips for how to ripen a peach.
Peaches are in season starting as early as April and going through October.
MORE jam recipes
No Pectin Peach Jam
- 8 cups peaches peeled and chopped into small pieces
- 2 ½ cups sugar
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 vanilla bean
- 3-6 tablespoon Bourbon
- Place peaches and lemon juice in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Mash the peaches with a potato masher until they are the consistency you want.
- Add sugar and bring to a boil stirring for about 15-25 minutes until thickens. As it starts to thicken add a vanilla bean that has been split and scrape seeds into jam along with the pod. Continue to cook until it sizzles when you run a spoon through it and it has thickened.
- Remove from heat and add 3-6 tablespoons of Bourbon depending on your preference.
- If you want a smooth jam, use an immersion blender to make it smooth.
- Pour the jam into the sterilized jars leaving about ¼ inch at the top. Using a wet paper towel, remove any jam on the rim of the jar and place a flat lid and ring on each. The ring should be just finger-tight.
- Place the jars in boiling water, making sure the water covers the jars by at least an inch. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Remove and leave undisturbed until cool. Once cooled, check to see if the lids have sealed by pressing down on the top. If it can be pushed down, it has not sealed and you should refrigerate and enjoy right away.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Try to use ripe peaches, if they are tart, you will need to add a little more sugar.
- Since some peaches are juicier than others, you may need to cook it longer.
- You can leave out the bourbon and it will still be delicious.
- This will make four 6 ounce jars.
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