Ahh, this time of year. The best of end-of-summer crops meets perfect weather. The very last bit of peaches, peak foliage in the White Mountains, a final 80 degree day at the beach followed by a cozy sweater, fleece leggings, and Alfred Hitchcock movies. Sort of says it all, doesn’t it?
I’m not one for picking favorites, but I really do think the peach might be my favorite fruit. I can’t get enough of that fragrant, juicy sweetness and have had a compulsion to save it all for this winter. I’ve put up some jars of brandy and bourbon peaches, but am really in love with this peach saffron jam. It’s all the goodness of late summer peaches, with a musky, earthy quality from the saffron.
Saffron…I’m so amazed someone supposedly thousands of years ago thought it was a worthwhile pursuit to pick the pistils from a crocus and use it for cooking and coloring purposes. I mean, what a tedious experiment — one that I’m happy to benefit from! This jam is really tasty on a cheese board, used as a glaze for meat, or mixed into ice cream or atop panna cotta. Perhaps even a cocktail would be tasty with the jam.
Peach Saffron Jam
Recipe from The Preservation Kitchen…clearly my favorite canning book!
- Pitted peaches: 12 cups (or 4 1/2 pounds)
- Sugar: 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon (or 312 grams)
- One lemon, juiced (or 1 ounce, or 28 grams)
- Saffron: 1 tablespoon
- Bring the peaches, sugar, lemon juice, and saffron to boil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Stir and continue cooking until the peaches release their juices, roughly 12 minutes. Cool on the counter, transfer to a storage container, and keep in the refrigerator overnight or up to 5 days to let the flavors meld.
- The book recommends passing the peaches through a food mill fitted with a coarse plate, right into a large, heavy-bottomed pot. I don’t have a food mill, so pulsed very quickly in a blender on low. I like my jam to have bits of fruit remaining in it, not super smooth, so really only blended for one or two seconds.
- Bring the jam to a boil and, stirring occasionally, continue to cook until it reaches 215 degrees F. This should take about 15 minutes.
- Scald 4 half-pint jars in a large pot with simmering water, fitted with a rack for canning. Right before filling, put the jars on a super clean surface on the counter – preferably with a clean towel underneath. While prepping the jars, soak the lids in a pan of hot water. Always use new lids since the rubber can weaken over time, and you need a good seal for safety.
- Transfer the jam to a heat-proof container and pour into the jars, with about a 1/2 inch space from the rim of the jar. With a clean towel, wipe the rims of the jars, seal with the lids, and screw on the bands. You want the bands just snug enough to feel sturdy, but not so tight that it will be hard to open up later.
- Gently place the jars in the pot with the rack. Make sure the jars are covered with about an inch of water, and bring the pot to a boil. Process the jars for 10 minutes, with the timer starting once the water begins to boil. Turn the heat off and leave the jars in the pot for a few minutes, to allow the jars to acclimate. If you take them out too quickly, air can escape and it can mess up the safety of the seal. After a few minutes, remove the jars from the water and let cool completely.
Peach-Saffron Ice Cream
Inspired by the Peach Buttermilk Ice Cream on Eat Boutique
Earlier this summer, I had made this super simple yet delicious ice cream from an Eat Boutique recipe. Just peaches, buttermilk, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and almond extracts. A tangy, sweet ice cream that was a nice break from the custard based treats I had been making all summer. Well, I had a lot of the peach-saffron jam in the fridge, a little bit of buttermilk, a little bit of whole milk, and some sugar. No eggs. Clearly the only logical thing left to do was make ice cream for breakfast.
I really just made this to taste, adding a bit more jam here, a touch of sugar there. You could use all buttermilk, or all regular milk, depending on what you have. I only had a cup of buttermilk, so that’s all! This is more of a frozen yogurt, so it does have that texture, but the flavor is so interesting, it suits a yogurt.
- 3 cups milk, any combination of buttermilk and/or whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar to start
- About 1 cup peach-saffron jam
Mix all the ingredients in a blender, adding the jam a 1/4 cup at a time and tasting each time. Add enough jam so the ice cream turns a bright yellow and the flavor of the peaches really shines. I didn’t measure, but used about a cup of jam, and added a touch more sugar as well. If you want little bits of the peaches to remain, be careful to not over mix. When you’re happy with how it tastes, transfer it to a storage container to cool in the refrigerator for a few hours before churning. This will help you get a great, smooth texture, rather than ending up with an icy dessert. When ready, churn in your ice cream machine following the manufacturer’s instructions, and enjoy!
Missed peach season? I bet you could make a tasty ice cream with jams from your local market or farm stand – enjoy experimenting with it!