After all the ladies drove the long dirt road lined with cattle and hay fields they arrived to Rancho San Julian and the sweet smell of simmering stone fruit filled the air. Elizabeth Poett Cambpell and Katie Isaacson Hames welcomed us and the class began. Elizabeth and Katie learned how to preserve food alongside each other as their mothers, together, taught them. Elizabeth is a home cook and helps run the Rancho San Julian cattle operation. Katie is a farmer at Midland School and has even had her own canning business. It was clear by the smells coming from the kitchen and by the vast amount of stone fruit on the table, that we were all in good hands.
Many of the women had canned before and many had not. As we gathered around the long kitchen table Elizabeth and Katie went over tools needed and walked us through the process. We split into groups and some began slicing fruit, while others took turns cleaning jars and and others helped stir the already simmering pot of peach jam.
Our teachers went through many of their secrets and tips and even though I had jammed before I learned so many new things! There was plenty of time for questions and then the jamming and sealing the jars began. Everyone took a turn learning and helping with the water bath process.
There was a full spread of treats for us to enjoy, all made by Emma, including peach hand pies and a peach shrub drink (recipes on next blog post), and pickled vegetables.
As I drove back down the dirt road, I felt like I had learned a great deal about jamming and had more respect for the process. And my heart felt full ( and so did my stomach) after spending the afternoon learning with such a lovely group of women! The class felt informal, informative, sweet and warm. Thank you Elizabeth and Katie for sharing your expertise with us!
Below are Elizabeth and Katie's list of equipment needed and their Classic Peach Jam Recipe!
- Canning pot with canning rack
- Mason jars, lids and rings
- Stainless steel funnel
- Jar lifter
- Magnetic lid wand
- Jam Pot
- Wooden spoon
4 pounds of peaches
4 cups of sugar
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon
Rinse peaches, cut in half and remove pits.
Toss the peaches, sugar and lemon together and set in fridge overnight.
Place fruit mixture into preserving pot and bring to a boil. Stir frequently.
Cook over a high flame. Continue stirring frequently.
As the jam thickens, lower the heat and stir more often to prevent sticking.
When jam is a good consistency, you are ready to can.
Turn off heat and ladle the hot jam into prepared canning jars. Leave ¼ inch headspace.
Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Once you have mastered making traditional peach jam, you may want to play with new flavors. For example, adding a couple of split vanilla pods to make peach vanilla jam, or a cup of bourbon to the mixture for peach bourbon jam.
Phots by Brittany Smith