Back to our show: The jam. This batch of sugary goo is out. of. control. The boys wanted to just eat and eat it once I gave them a little taster. I intentionally preserved it in smaller jars so we wouldn't eat it all in one fell swoop once opened. It has a few less-than-conventional ingredients, but I think they are completely worth it. Oh, and go easy on the almond extract—we're talking drops, not anything more. That stuff will take over if you let it.
My Perfect Peach/Nectarine Jam
makes 6-8 cups
3-4 pounds ripe peaches and/or nectarines
7 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split
1/2 tsp unsalted butter
scant 1/8 tsp almond extract
2- 3oz. packets liquid pectin
Peel, pit, and chop peaches. Give them a good mashing—I used my hands and just squished them about, but you could also use a potato masher or pulse them a bit in a food processor. I got some great textural variety using my hands; I think I'd do it again.
Put peaches in a large, heavy saucepan, and add sugar, lemon juice, water, cinnamon stick, and vanilla. Stir to combine, and put over medium heat; stir until sugar is dissolved. Add butter and almond (I warned you—be careful with that stuff—err on the side of caution, and adjust to taste) and stir to combine. Heat, stirring constantly, until jam reaches a steady boil. Add both packets of pectin, and return to a boil. Boil 1 minute, remove from heat, and bottle that stuff using good common sense.
You don't have to preserve it of course. You could just put it in jars in the refrigerator and eat it up with a spoon. Or you could put it in a sweet dough shell and have an instant summer tart. No matter what you do with it, you're going to love the complex, smooth, summery flavour, especially in the dead of winter when you pull that jar off the pantry shelf. I know I'm looking forward to it.