One of the principal tenets of Biodynamics is creating a diverse ecosystem in whatever you're growing. That means avoiding monoculture, encouraging the growth of native and complementary plants, and reaping the benefits of the complex, healthy soils and resilient, self-sustaining inesct population that result. Our animal program is the most visible face of our pursuit of biodynamics, but not the only one.
Fruit trees, particularly stone fruits, are classic components of a biodiverse vineyard both because they tend to thrive in the same climate as grapes and because of the many creatures they attract and sustain. What's more, they produce crops that are enjoyable in their own right, and help provide tasty snacks for our field and office crew through the summer. About 5 years ago, we planted a selection of heirloom peaches, apricots, pears, apples, plums, quince, and cherries, and this year they have started producing fruit in earnest.
If, like us, you are rolling in peaches, we thought you might appreciate a simple peach jam recipe. This can be canned and stored indefinitely, frozen for several months, or kept in the fridge and eaten within 2-3 weeks. It divides easily if you don't have as many peaches as we did, and is fun to make with kids. I did, last night, and we enjoyed the results this morning.
Makes about 8 pints of preserves.
20 cups fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and quartered
3/4 cup classic pectin (I used RealFruit Classic Pectin by Ball)
1/2 cup lemon juice
8 cups sugar
1 tablespoon butter
To make the preserves (if you're canning, read the next section as well since some of what you'll need to do will happen simultaneously to your cooking the preserves):
- Place the peaches in a large enameled saucepan on the stovetop and pour the lemon juice over the top.
- Mash the peaches roughly with a potato masher.
- Mix 1 cup of the sugar with the pectin and pour it over the peach mixture, then mix well.
- Add the butter. This will help keep down the foam that forms during boiling.
- On high heat, stirring reqularly, bring the peach mixture to a full boil (the point at which it continues to boil rapidly even when stirred).
- Add the rest of the sugar, all at once, and bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring regularly. Boil for a couple of minutes, then remove from the heat.
- Skim off as much of the foam that has formed as possible.
If you're freezing or keeping the preserves in your fridge, you're done... let them cool, choose a storage container, and refrigerate or freeze.
If you're canning:
- Choose a large pot, deep enough to cover the tops of whatever jars you're using, add the jars you want to use, and fill it with enough water to cover the jars.
- Bring that pot to a simmer while you're making the preserves.
- For sterilizing the lids, choose a small saucepan, put in the lids you'll be using, cover with a few inches of water, and bring that to a simmer as well.
- When the preserves are done, use a jar lifter to carefully lift out a jar from the hot water bath, drain the water back into the pot, then fill to within 1/4 inch of the top using a wide-mouth canning funnel.
- Remove a lid (there are cool magnetic lid lifting wands in most canning kits, or you can use tongs) and place it carefully on top of the filled jar, then screw on a top so that it's on but not super-tight.
- Continue until you've filled all your jars.
- Return the jars to the water, turn it up to a rolling boil, and boil 12 minutes to sterilize your new preserves.
- Remove the jars from the water bath and let them cool overnight
- Tighten the screw-on tops, store and enjoy all year.