Friday, August 2, 2013

Vanilla - Peach Jam with Chiles (Toast Topper #24)

Last Christmas my family and I were the lucky recipients of a jar of vanilla-chipotle-pear jam from one of my neighbours. It was fantastic - as I knew it would be, given that they own one of the best-smelling southern BBQ joints in town, and their BBQ beef brisket lasagne was apparently out of this world when my stepbrother (a huge fan of Buster Rhino's) made it over the holidays last year. The jar disappeared all too soon, and when it came back around to "jamming" season I couldn't wait to see what the flavours of chile powder and vanilla could do to other fruit! When mom and I came home from the farmer's market with a huge basket of peaches, fresh from Niagara (it's not quite their time up here in the GTA), I had my fruity foil. 

I've been making a lot of lower-sugar jams this year, partially to save a bit of cash (sugar gets pricey!) but mostly because the majority of the people who will receive them at Christmas are avoiding it for one reason or another. That doesn't mean I've stopped sweetening them, but I've been lucky enough to have the chance to try out a few natural sweeteners this year too and for the most part I've been extremely pleased with the results! For this jam, I used a combination of  vanilla sugar and Truvia, a blend of stevia and erythritol that's 3 times as sweet as regular table sugar. While I wasn't totally thrilled about the use of a sugar alcohol with an already naturally sweet herb (even though erythritol is minutely present in nature as well), I wasn't planning to use a bucket of the stuff, and figured that in a jam, the amount per serving would be almost non-existent. My main issue was actually a rather embarrassing one - conversion. Even though the Truvia website offers a handy chart, I found that it actually took about 2 tbsp to get the sweetness of the 1/4 cup of sugar I was going for in the original, not the 1 1/2 stated. This could be an anomaly, but I noted it for future reference to be safe. Rule of thumb: taste as you go!

Vanilla - Peach Jam with Chiles

Anyways, making the jam is a fairly simple process, and you can really modify it to suit your preference. My peaches were really ripe by the time I got to making them into jam, so they broke down more than I anticipated (and their juice got all over my hands... poow me :-) ). However, the slight smokiness and spice from both the ancho and chipotle chile powders I added really accented and tempered that sticky sweetness, while the vanilla was a present but subtle note that jacked it up enough to make it taste gourmet. My mom tells me it's fantastic on toast, and has even used it as a condiment on broiled pork chops with dinner! 

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays 

Vanilla - Peach Jam with Chiles
Makes about 1 1/2 pints, 24 (2-tbsp) servings
2 cups diced, peeled peaches (about 3 large)
2 tsp calcium water (from the Pomona's box)
¼ tsp ground ancho chile powder
pinch chipotle chile powder
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Truvia
½ cup vanilla sugar
½ tbsp Pomonas Universal Pectin
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Mash 3/4 of the peaches in a pot.
  2. Stir in the diced peaches, calcium water, chipotle pepper powder, lemon juice and Truvia and bring to a boil.
  3. Whisk together the vanilla sugar and pectin, then add to the pot and stir to dissolve.
  4. Add vanilla.
  5. Stirring constantly, return to a full boil and cook 1 minute.
  6. Fill jars, seal and process in a waterbath for 10 minutes.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 24.6
Total Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 0.0 mg
Total Carbs: 6.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.4 g
Protein: 0.1 g