My fear of botulism.
Note: Clean jars are required for jam making. Follow the instructions here, only don't worry about putting the lids in the oven to dry off. I always just drain and use them straight away now. A quick invert and re-invert of the jars immediately after sealing means the hot jam will kill any bacteria on the inside of the lid.
From time to time, I develop obsessive compulsions and for the last few years, around this time, I have been struck by this huge, unstoppable urge to start making preserves. It is all consuming and I have to fight hard not to spend my entire take home pay at the markets buying fruit and what not.
I know if I were a better person, I'd grow my own produce and do it organically to boot. But then, if I were a better person, I wouldn't have lost my cool and started yelling at the housemaid who ignored the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on my hotel room door the other day and came in without knocking. A better person would have laughed that off.
(I was naked, btw, so don't start thinking that Mr. P is the kind of guy who just flies off the handle over nothing. Although he is, as it happens.)
Anyway: jam. Two of my favourite Summer treats are peaches and nectarines. The fact that these now come shaped like doughnuts is, as far as this boy is concerned, only further reason to enjoy them. Although I've not had one decent nectarine this year, they've all been woody and sour, so I might have to fly out to Spain and have a word with the farmers four our mutual benefit next year. I thought some of these white doughnut peaches would make a lovely jam, and I was right. But then I scared the Scheiße out of myself when I read that white peaches need to be acidulated in order to prevent the growth of botulism in the finished bottled goods.
What to do?
Well, I haven't died eating my jam, so I am assuming it is OK to do nothing. I did have a read around the USDA information online, which to be honest, was terrifying. I do think that there's a HUGE fear of food preparation techniques in America (worrying about what could happen to your pickles if you don't heat the vinegar sufficiently etc) that we just don't have in the UK. I'm sure it's well researched. But to reassure myself I asked the NHS how many cases of botulism we've had in the UK recently. That calmed me down considerably.
However, since I don't want you lot to fall ill, I'm going to say to add the juice of two lemons to this recipe. Let's stay safe. Doughnut peaches are lovely, but not worth dying for.
White Peach Jam
You will need:
1kg chopped white peaches
1kg sugar (use jam sugar for an assured set)
2 lemons, juiced
- Put the chopped peaches and sugar into a large pan, stir well, and set aside for a few hours if you have time. This will encourage the fruit to release juice, which will help keep the peach pieces whole during cooking, but it isn't essential.
- Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring all the time until the sugar dissolves. Then turn up the heat, add the lemon juice, bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard for 3 minutes or so.
- Test for setting point: pour a little jam onto a chilled saucer and wait for half a minute or so. If it forms a gel and wrinkles when you poke it with your finger, it's done. If not, boil for a few more minutes and try again.
- Remove from heat, pour into warm, sterilised jars and seal with clean lids. I got the four jars you see above; I'd say it'd be three regular sized jam jars if you didn't have the small size.