Thursday, August 6, 2020

Orchard Harvest Jam - Toast Topper #87

Orchard Harvest Jam is a medley of peaches, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries cooked simply. No adornments needed (or a whole lot of sugar either!)


I get so excited every year when the first Ontario peaches and berries make it to market. Too often, the window where the peaches and nectarines are just right is only a week or two long, and during that time I'm at the farmer's market as much as possible, buying up the local harvest. This year, of course, farmer's markets have been hard to find and a much different experience to attend, and honestly I've been shying away from them because the joy of interaction is gone (for now!). That said, it has been a perfect time to use up my frozen stash of various fruit from over the year, and when I came upon a bag marked "Orchard Harvest Jam" I suddenly remembered I never posted this beauty from last year! So, to make up for it (and while a loaf of zucchini bread baked away in the oven) I made another batch.

This jam is really easy to make, given the already soft nature of thawed fruit. If you only have fresh, absolutely use it - I bet it would make this even more spectacular. Just remember to peel and put the peaches, 'cause those things have no place in a Toast Topper! I used a big ol' potato masher to break down my mix, leaving a bit of texture, but if you want silky smooth run it through a blender or use a stick blender to do the job. I love to use Pomona's Pectin when I do jams, mostly because I hate super-sweet preserves but also to cater to the various health concerns of those I gift jars to. This pectin is calcium-activated and comes with directions on the packet (though I buy mine in bulk these days, so i often Google when I can't remember), but the key is that you can't use too much sugar or it won't set! I have also used this pectin in jams using honey, and it works well there as long as you can dissolve it well enough.

Technical stuff aside, though, the beauty of this jam shines through in it's simplicity. There are no spices, liqueurs, extracts or chocolate to overshadow the ripe fruit, and the tartness of the berries counteracts the sweetness of the peaches. I like to bottle this jam in 4 oz (1/2 cup) jars so that I can stash a few and give the rest away, but if you do can this I would suggest no larger than a 1/2 pint (1 cup) jar so that you can get through it before it goes off (it'll last about 2 weeks in the fridge). You can also freeze this but it won't be as thick upon thawing, then again depending on what you're doing with it that might be perfect (she says as she eats applesauce with slightly runny jam stirred into it).

Orchard Harvest Jam
Makes  ~ 4 cups
1 kg mixed fruit (I used a frozen mix of peaches, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries), thawed if frozen and mashed well
1 tbsp calcium water (from Pomona's)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp Pomona's Pectin
  1. Combine the fruit, calcium water and lemon juice in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Whisk together the sugar and pectin and add to the fruit.
  3. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  4. Ladle into jars and process 10 minutes in a water bath (or see options above).