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Bourbon-vanilla peach jam recipe

July 12th, 2011

I finally managed to make jam in less than two hours.  This time, I came in at 1 hour and 45 minutes.  I’m hoping to get the time down to about an hour, but that will require more practice.  Delicious practice.

Last year I made 8 half-pints of peach jam, and I experimented by adding different flavorings to each — bourbon & vanilla (separately and together), red stag whiskey, grand marnier, etc.  The one I liked the best was the bourbon & vanilla, so this year I decided to go all in and make a whole batch of it.

And then, I couldn’t find my recipe.  I searched all over for it.  It’s just … gone.  I rustled up another one on the internet, adjusted the flavorings a bit, and came up with this.  It’s really good.  While I was filling one of the jars, I messed up and got jam everywhere.  I didn’t want to bother cleaning it up, so I didn’t process that one and sampled it with ice cream.  Wow.  It’s in the fridge now, waiting for me to have it on toast in the morning.

I used no-sugar-needed pectin.  This stuff is amazing.  Standard pectin requires tons of sugar to gel,usually equal in volume to the fruit, which makes the final product too sweet for my tastes.  No-sugar-needed pectin can be used with no sugar at all, however I’ve read that sugar-free jam turns dark.  Plus, I think some sugar brings out the flavor of the fruit.  When I make jam, I usually add a cup of sugar, then start tasting (with a clean spoon each time!), adding more as needed.  For me, this jam was about right with 1 cup.

Here’s the recipe.  When i made it, I nearly forgot to add the bourbon!  It’s so close to the end that I was ready to be done and started racing.  I highlighted that step for you with an underline, just in case you have the same trouble.

You can find a version formatted for printing here.

Bourbon-Vanilla Peach Jam (with no-sugar needed pectin)

Yield:  6 half-pints


3.5 pounds, or ¼ peck, peaches or nectarines (to yield about 8 cups of raw, chopped fruit)

¼ cup bottled lemon juice (always bottled!)

½ or 1 whole vanilla bean, scraped and cut into chunks

About 4.5 cups table sugar

No sugar needed pectin

¼ cup bourbon


  1. Wash jars and rings. If you use the dishwasher, use the extra hot or sanitize setting.  Keep jars hot, either in hot water or in the drying cycle on the dishwasher, until ready to use.

  1. Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water.  Use a lid-lifter to retrieve them when you are ready.

  1. Wash the fruit.

  1. Immerse the fruit in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Remove from the water using a slotted spoon and put into a large bowl of ice water.  The skins will easily slide off.

  1. Cut out any bad spots. Slice the peaches, remove pits, cut out the hard bits around the pit, then mush them up a bit with a potato masher.

  1. Quickly add the lemon juice, vanilla scrapings and vanilla bean chunks & mix thoroughly.

  1. Mix the pectin with 1/4 cup sugar.  Stir the pectin into the peaches and put the mix in a big pot on the stove over medium to high heat.  Bring to a full boil (about 5 to 10 minutes), stirring frequently.

  1. Add sweetener.  Since you are using “no sugar needed” pectin, you don’t have to add sweetener, however, your jam will have better color if you do.  Follow the guidelines in your pectin package.  I add 1 additional cup of sugar, then taste after cooking a bit and add more if needed.  Remember that the jam will taste sweeter when it is hot than when it is cold.  Return to a boil  and boil hard for 1 minute.

  1. Test the gel.  I put a plate in the freezer, then dribble a teaspoon of jam on the cold plate.  If it thickens up to the consistency I like, then I know the jam is ready. If not, I mix in a little more pectin (from another package) and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute.

  1. Remove vanilla bean chunks. Stir in bourbon.
  1. Fill jars to within ¼-inch of the top, wipe the tops with a damp cloth, seat the lid & tighten the ring around them — just fingertip tight. Then put them into the boiling water canner and put the lid on.

  1. Keep the jars covered with at least 2 inches of water. Keep the water boiling. Follow the directions inside your box of pectin for how long to process.

  1. Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool overnight without touching or bumping them.  Remove the rings, check for seal and wipe the jars clean for storage.

Drunken Cherries

July 4th, 2011

Drunken Cherries
Cherry bourbon. No, not that horrid Jack Daniels Red Stag stuff that tastes like cough syrup. Real cherry bourbon, made from real cherries soaked in real bourbon. I made some 2 weeks ago, and it’s fantastic.

I found this recipe in Put ‘em up! A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, by Sherri Brooks Vinton. I’ve been looking for a modern guide to preserving for some time, and this one is excellent. I found it at a local farm stand, and I bought it for the cherry recipes alone (although I’m sure I’ll try the others).

The cherry bourbon is dead easy to make, and results in a beautiful red drink that is impossible to photograph and tastes like cherries. Strangely, the bourbon-soaked cherries are themselves disgusting — they have a bitter, somewhat dirty taste. I guess they’ve given up all their goodness to the bourbon.

Although it’s very good neat, I can’t WAIT to mix up a Manhattan with this stuff. I think I’d better do that soon, before I tipple it all away.

Cherry Bourbon
1 pound sweet cherries (such as Bing), stemmed but not pitted
1-1/2 cups bourbon (I used George Dickel)
1/2 cup brown sugar*
1/2 cup water

1. Slice each cherry on one side to allow the flavors to escape into the bourbon. Don’t remove the pits.
2. Put the cherries in a quart jar, add the bourbon.
3. Heat the sugar and water in a small sauce pan until it boils. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
4. Pour the sugar water into the jar. Put the lid on the jar and shake to combine.
5. Store in a cool, dark place. Let the mixture infuse for at least a week. Keeps at room temperature for up to 1 year.

* I don’t keep brown sugar in my pantry (it’s too small!). When I need brown sugar, I use white table sugar and molasses. For this recipe, I used 1/2 cup white sugar and slightly less than 1/2 tablespoon molasses.

Playlist of my life, delayed

July 4th, 2011

Obviously, my playlist project has stalled out. My laptop died, and I’m waiting a bit to replace it. In the meantime, I’m sharing a desktop with my husband, which has messed up my work process. I’ll get it back on track soon.