Now that I have successfully canned my first jam, there’s no going back. No more cursing myself for moving across the country only because I no longer go back to school with cans of strawberry freezer jam from a certain birthday buddy on the East Coast. No more looking lustily at the $6-8 half-pints of homemade jam at the farmer’s market and lying awake considering how much money I’d have to make before that’s not just ridiculous. I won’t lie, canning is one of those things that requires a t-shirt and shorts, some really peppy music, and a cold drink that, ideally, doesn’t take up too much space on the counter (if you, too, have a miniscule kitchen). In my favorite lazy move of late, I decided to make my first jam out of nectarines because, unlike peaches, they don’t have to be peeled. Peeling fruit is like ironing, it’s great if someone else does it for you, but is not something I ever do for myself.
If you don’t want to actually can some jam you can do the whole shebang in 40 minutes and put the jam in small containers in the freezer. Since I save my freezer space for important things like bacon, chicken stock, cookies, 4 pounds of butter, ice cubes, and the odd bag of bread crumbs, I’ll leave freezer jam to someone else.
(Makes 6-7 half-pint jars of jam)
4 pounds of ripe nectarines* pitted and chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For cooking the jam: In a large pot, mix the chopped nectarines, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer on medium heat and cook for about 25 minutes or until the juice has reached a more syrupy consistency, but the nectarines still hold some shape. Since there’s no extra gelling agent the jam will stay loose. You can test whether the juice has become syrupy enough by putting a dab on a plate that’s been cooled in the freezer. Put the plate with dab of jam on it in the freezer for a minute; the jam should become a bit thicker.
For canning the jam: Follow the directions for canning from the dilly beans post. You will need to prepare 7 half-pint canning jars. Make sure to use new flat lids so that they seal properly. Leave 1/4 inch of space at the top of the jars after filling them with the jam. Process the filled jars of jam for 5 minutes in the water bath.
*Ripe nectarines can still feel rather firm and will have just a bit of give. After feeling up and then cutting open 4 pounds of nectarines, I would say that large obvious soft spots are not a good thing but a slight overall softness is ideal.