Peach vanilla bean jam is chocked full with chunks of juicy ripe peaches suspended in their own juices that, when cooked down for over an hour with some sugar, thicken into a glorious and sticky jam. Perfect for slathering on fresh croissants or adding to cookies!
I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not yet sick of all the peach recipes going on in my kitchen this summer!
In fact, after this peach vanilla bean jam, there may be one more recipe I’ll share before the end of the month (think pie). Peach jam, however, is something I’ve been dying to make for as long as I can remember and I decided that it was time to finally step up to the plate and make some.
Since peach season is in August here in New England, we wait a loooong time for perfectly ripe, local peaches. I basically refuse to buy peaches from the grocery store for most of the summer since I’m almost never happy with the quality I find there.
Making Jam with Ripe, Fresh Peaches
So for this jam, as well with the peach butter and the salted brown sugar roasted peach jam I’ve also made, I made a special trip to a local farm stand to grab some peaches. And let me tell you something, it’s important to use the freshest and most ripe peaches you can when you bake, cook, or make jam.
Why you should make jam with ripe, fresh peaches:
- Ripe peaches are more flavorful. Ripe peaches just taste better than unripe peaches do, don’t they? That’s because the sugars in the fruit have been given more time to develop as the peach ripens.
- Ripe peaches are easier to peel. Even though ripe peaches are softer than not-quite ripe peaches, they peel easier because the skins don’t cling to the fruit.
- Ripe peaches are often easier to pit. This is not always a guarantee because there some peach varieties are referred to as “cling peaches”. This means that the pits are difficult to remove. However, the pit tends to loosen a bit from the fruit as a peach ripens, making it a little easier to remove.
- Ripe peaches are more apt to be overlooked or thrown away. We all know that overripe fruit can be unsightly so why let your peaches get to that point? Use them when they are perfectly ripe to avoid tossing them out in a day or two after they’ve spoiled. It’s ok to use bruised peaches for jam! No one is going to see the bruises once you cut and cook them down.
Jam with Vanilla Beans
Flecked with tiny vanilla bean seeds, this jam lived up to every imaginable expectation I had for what a homemade peach jam should be. And I realize that vanilla beans are an expensive ingredient.
But let me tell you, they are worth the price to make a peach jam like this one. You can buy them in bulk (through Amazon) at a much lower cost per bean than you can find in the grocery store. Freeze your leftover beans to extend the shelf life. And make vanilla sugar with the bean pods after you scrape out the beans!
Seriously, could this jam not be a more luxurious compliment to some fresh croissants? I’d say it was the perfect breakfast for this birthday girl this morning.
And as far as canning this jam goes, it helps that this week has been the perfect time to work on my canning skills since I’ve had some time off but if you’re uneasy about canning, you can make the jam and store it in the fridge or freezer for longer term storage. However, canning in general is a very simple process and if you’ve never tried it, this recipe is the perfect way to get you started.
- 3 lbs ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 3 ½ cups sugar
- 1-2 vanilla bean(s), halved lengthwise, seeds scraped out
- Juice of 1 lemon
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, combine all ingredients (including vanilla bean seeds and pods) over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for about 1 ½ to 2 hours, until the fruit has softened and is partially caramelized with a dark orange color. Discard the vanilla bean pods.
- Using your preferred method (see canning guides in the Notes section below, if needed), can and preserve (boil for 15 minutes if your altitude is less than 1000ft above sea level) jam in sterilized jars.
Storage: If canned properly*, the jam will keep in sealed jars at room temperature for up to 1 year. Alternatively, you can store the jam in clean jars and keep refrigerated for up to 1 month or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
*If your jar lids do not "POP!" within 12 hours of canning, transfer the jars directly to the refrigerator. This means they have not sealed properly and cannot safely be stored at room temperature.
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