No-Cook Garam Masala Peach Freezer Jam
There is so much beautiful fruit at the farmers market these days and what better way to capture the flavor than making jam. The only problem? It is a pain in the ass to cook fruit down to the right consistency on top of the whole canning process, and I just don’t have the time or patience. If you share this feeling, then you can understand why I was so happy to learn of this no-cook freezer jam process. Seems simple enough – lightly crush your fruit of choice, mix in sugar and other flavorings, and stir in pectin. After making 4 batches, I learned it was a bit more nuanced.
- Strawberry – strawberries are just about the perfect fruit for jam making. No big seeds or thick skins to deal, making it a breeze to throw together. I used the best of the season fruit, granulated sugar (which doesn’t interfere with the fruit’s natural flavor), and just a bit of lemon juice. It was heavenly (I still have one jar in the freezer which I plan to hoard all to myself. Ok, I will share…maybe, and just a little).
- Blackberry – it didn’t really dawn on me until after I made this jam how seedy blackberries can be (although I have had some others this season that weren’t as seedy, so I guess it just depends). I still loved the flavor but because of the seeds, I don’t think I would make it again. Again, I used best of the season fruit, granulated sugar and just a bit of lemon juice. It froze/defrosted well.
- Blueberry – this was the worst batch of them all. I thought I could lightly crush the blueberries but the skins were too thick and I had to puree it in the blender. I really like having larger chunks of fruit in my jam so that was a bummer. I also experimented with using honey instead of granulated sugar in this batch and I did not like the way it’s flavor overwhelmed the blueberries. On top of it all, it came out of the freezer with a strange, slightly watery texture. While it wasn’t great for spreading on toast, we still used it by tossing it in our morning smoothies.
- Peach – I wanted to experiment a bit more with lightly flavoring jam so decided to add a bit of garam masala to this batch and it was delicious! I didn’t want to overwhelm the peach flavor, only give it a little boost. This batch was a bit more labor intensive as the peaches needed to be peeled but it led me to think about the “Root to Fruit” possibilities of a peach. Did you know you can use the pits and the leaves to flavor other ingredients? I will have another blog post with more ideas soon!
I think raspberries, mulberries, thin-skinned stone fruit like apricots and plums, and even pawpaws would work well. If you aren’t sure how the fruit you have on hand will work, just crush a handful to see. Is it too seedy, skins too thick, etc?
A note on the amount of sugar: the original recipe calls for 1-1/2 cups of sugar but I prefer just barely sweetened jams. I cut it down to just a 1/2 cup but you may need more depending on how sweet your fruit is to begin with. Make sure you taste, adjust and taste again to ensure it’s to your liking.
Here are my take-aways: choose your fruit wisely, stick with granulated sugar for a clean flavor and use a light hand when adding other flavors.
Adding a small amount of your favorite flavors is a way to make this jam your own. The additions will depend on the fruit you are using but below are some ideas to get you started.
- Herbs – basil, cinnamon basil, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, mint, lavender, anise hyssop
- Spices – cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, saffron, vanilla, cardamom, coriander, cayenne, star anise
- Acid – lemon, lime or orange zest and juice; balasamic vinegar
- Alcohol – bourbon, brandy, port, rum, wine, cognac, amaretto, creme de cassis, Calvados, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Kirsch, Madiera, Vin Santo, Framboise
- Savory – this technique can be used for savory items, such as tomatoes, as well.
No-Cook Garam Masala Peach Freezer Jam
Peel & Prep the Peaches:
Fill a large stockpot half way with water and bring to a boil. Fill a large mixing bowl with ice water and set aside.
Using a sharp paring knife, cut a small X, an inch or two in length, in the bottom of each peach.
When the water comes to a boil, carefully drop in half of the peaches and allow to simmer for just a minute, or until the skin easily pulls away from the X cut in the bottom. Transfer to the ice water immediately and allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a large cutting board. Bring the water back to a boil and repeat with the remaining peaches.
Peel and pit the peaches (keep the skin and add to your smoothies!). Using your hand or a knife, roughly cut the peaches into 1/2 to 1 inch chunks. For ease, I simply pulled the peaches away from the pits over a bowl and used my fingers to break them up into rough pieces (you should have about 4 cups).
Mix with the remaining Peach Jam ingredients, taste, and adjust sugar, lemon juice and/or garam masala as desired (I added a touch more of all these ingredients but it will depend on the sweetness/flavor of your peaches).
Prepare the Pectin:
NOTE: these instructions are for Paloma's Universal Pectin only. Not all brands of pectin work the same.
Prepare the calcium water by adding 1/2 teaspoon calcium powder to 1/2 cup water and stir to combine.
Heat the water in the microwave in a 2 cup liquid measuring cup until boiling. Remove and pour in the pectin. Using an immersion blender, blend until fully incorporated and the liquid has thickened, about 1 minute (you could also use a blender if you don't have an immersion blender).
Make the Jam:
Pour the pectin into the jam and stir to combine. Add 4 teaspoons of calcium water and stir for 1-2 minutes, or until mixture is thick.
Transfer to 4 pint jars. Keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or freezer for up to 6 months.
I use Pomona's Universal Pectin brand because it is formulated to work with low sugar jams. If you are using a different brand, make sure to read the instructions carefully as you may need more sugar than my recipe indicates.