With minimal hands-on time and a few simple ingredients, this easy peach freezer jam will be a delicious taste of summer all year long! We've got all your questions covered for this no-fail recipe!
I get super excited when I start seeing beautiful peaches at the grocery store or at our local farmer's market. In addition to eating them right out of hand and enjoying them for breakfast with yogurt and granola, my mind starts swirling with ideas for smoothies, salads, noodle bowls, muffins, peach crumbles... and on and on it goes. But one of my favorite things to do is make a batch or two of Peach Freezer Jam. It's delightful to enjoy right now but in 6 months when those cold Carolina winter winds are blowing, it's like a little slice of summer heaven to pull a jar of this beautiful-hued jam from the freezer.
Easier than ever!
Most recipes for peach freezer jam call for peeling the peaches before dicing or processing them. I've found that it's not necessary. When the peaches are diced nice and small, the peach skins are almost non-existent in the finished jam. There are also three other advantages to leaving the skin on. First of all, the highest amount of pectin in peaches is found in the skin, therefore leaving the skin on helps the jam to set better.
Secondly, peach jam can be a little anemic looking. Leaving the skins on give the jam a beautiful glowing hue. Check out these pictures!
Lastly, it's just a whole lot easier not to have to peel the peaches. That's a big bonus for a soul like me, always in a hurry with a bit of a lazy streak.
Why does peach freezer jam sometimes not set?
Peach freezer jam can be a little tricky to make. It's not that the process of making it is difficult, but sometimes the jam just doesn't set even though you've carefully followed the instructions. The reason is that peaches are very juicy and also, unlike most berries which set up nicely in jam recipes, peaches have very little of their own pectin. So even though most peach freezer jam recipes call for dry or liquid pectin (the same amount that strawberry, raspberry, and cherry jam recipes call for), it's just not enough to create a good set.
I've discovered, after lots of experimentation, that peach freezer jam actually needs double the amount of pectin to set up well. After trying extra lemon juice (high in pectin) and even grated apple (also very high in pectin), I've discovered that the easiest way to ensure a good set with peaches is to double the pectin.
What kind of peaches should I use for this jam?
Any kind of peach will work for this jam but be sure to taste the peaches first. If they're woody or flavorless, don't make jam with them. You want sweet, delicious, ripe peaches as your finished jam will reflect the quality of the fruit used.
One other tip; although there are many varieties of peaches, they fall into two categories, "cling" and "freestone". This nomenclature describes the pit of the peaches with cling peaches having a pit or stone that is not easily removed and freestone, as the name suggests, having an easily removable pit. Both types of peaches are delicious but it's a lot easier to make jam with freestone peaches.
Cling peaches are harvested early in the peach season, usually during the first few weeks. Freestone peaches generally follow a few weeks later and are the major players for the rest of the season.
Best way to prep the peaches for this peach freezer jam
There are several ways to get the peaches ready to combine with the sugar. I wash my peaches well and since I don't peel them, I gently rub them under the cool water to remove any peach "fuzz". Next, they're halved and the stone is removed. In the past, I used to then slice the halves into ¼-inch slices both length and width-wise to create a nice ¼-inch die. But this summer I figured out an easier way to do it.
I decided to try my beloved veggie chopper. I simply stack a few slices of peach on the smaller grate, give the top a good whack, and, voila! Perfectly diced peaches in record time! I'm not one to have lots of kitchen gadgets, but I've used this type of chopper for years and it's truly been a workhorse in my kitchen for so many recipes!
Common questions about making peach freezer jam:
Can I cut back on the sugar?
- No, don't try to cut back on the sugar with this jam recipe. With freezer jam, the proportion of fruit to sugar is an exact science and if you want good results, you need to measure carefully and not ad-lib. It sounds like a lot of sugar, but if you divide it up into teaspoon or even tablespoon servings, it's really not that much. Think of it as a little treat on your toast, English muffin, yogurt, etc.
Why didn't my peach freezer jam set?
- There are several reasons why jam doesn't set properly. As discussed above, one of the reasons is that some fruits are naturally lower in pectin. Another reason is that the sugar was not fully dissolved. Pectin, for some reason, does not like to bond with sugar that's not been dissolved. So it's really important to stir the sugar/fruit mixture really well. I've also discovered that heating the mixture with a short stint in the microwave does wonders to dissolve that stubborn sugar.
Can I use a hot water bath with this jam?
- Freezer jam is designed to be stored in the refrigerator and/or freezer (for long term storage). It's not safe to use a hot water bath canning method with freezer jam recipes.
How long will this jam last?
- This peach freezer jam will last for 3 weeks in the refrigerator and for 1 year in the freezer.
Can I use liquid pectin instead of powdered pectin?
- Don't try to substitute liquid pectin for dry pectin. Occasionally it may work out but, for the most part, dry and liquid freezer jam recipes (for the same fruits) are different and are not interchangeable.
Can I substitute other fruits for the peaches?
- No, you can't just substitute another fruit for the peaches in this recipe. But you can definitely make freezer jam from lots of different fruits. For best results, check out one of our other freezer jam recipes or just follow the proportion directions for each specific fruit on the pectin box.
A perfect little gift for family, friends, neighbors...
One last thing before I get to the Café Tips. A jar of this peach freezer jam is a wonderful way to brighten someone's day, so I made a pretty little label for the jars. The label helps identify what's in the jars. That's nice for gifts but also super helpful in the middle of winter when you're digging through the freezer, looking for a jar of jam to serve with some freshly baked scones or biscuits on a chilly morning.
Feel free to leave me a comment below, requesting the printable labels. I'll send you PDFs in two sizes to accommodate different size jars. You can print them up on your own computer on cardstock, regular paper or use purchased printable stickers.
Café Tips for making this Easy Peach Freezer Jam
- Look for peaches that are nicely ripe but not overripe for this jam. They should not be green, should give slightly when gently squeezed and should have a nice peachy aroma. Bruised or brown peaches are not good for making jam. A good rule of thumb is to taste the peach. A peach that's delicious to eat will be great for making jam.
- I find that east coast peaches are sweeter and have a better texture than California peaches. It may be that they're picked too early in order to make it across the country but they just don't have the same kind of flavor as east coast peaches.
- Although there’s very little hands-on time when making this Easy Peach Freezer Jam, make it on a day when you’re going to be around the house. You’ll need to give it a good stir every now and then to help dissolve the sugar.
- I don't peel the peaches but feel free to if you prefer.
- One way to know when the jam has been stirred enough and is ready for the pectin is that the color will become deeper orange. If your peach/sugar mixture still looks a bit cloudy, you probably need to stir it more or give it one more 3-minute stint in the microwave.
- SureJell is a powdered fruit pectin that helps thicken the jam. SureJell can usually be found in the same section of the grocery store as canning jars and storage containers. If you can’t find it, just ask at the front desk and someone can direct you to the right section of the store.
- Check the label on the SureJell before buying to make sure it’s not expired. It can lose its thickening properties if it’s old.
- I use two packages of SureJell powdered pectin for this recipe which is 3.5 ounces or 98 grams (total for the two packages). You can use other brands or bulk powdered pectin. (I have found that Ball pectin tends to create a firmer set.)
- Don’t skip the lemon juice. Lemon juice has lots of natural pectin which helps in combination with the SureJell to thicken the jam.
- Some people are concerned about freezing jam in glass jars. I’ve been doing this for over 40 years and have never had a jar break. You do want to make sure however that you leave about a half-inch of space at the top of each jar to allow for expansion when the jam freezes.
- You can also use plastic storage containers if desired.
- This jam is fine at room temperature for a few hours but store it in the refrigerator or freezer when not being used.
- If gifting this Peach Freezer Jam let the recipient know that this jam should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer when not being used.
- The jam won’t set completely right away, hence the instructions to allow it to sit on the counter for 24 hours. Plus, I love the look of beautiful, vibrant-colored orange jam stacked up on my kitchen counter – call me old-fashioned, but there’s something about it that makes me smile!
- I found the fun jars that are pictured in this post on Amazon. I love that they come with two different lids, a cork lid as well as a plastic storage lid. They also come with kraft paper labels and a packet of twine, for tying labels to the jars.
Thought for the day:
Be still, and know that I am God.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
With minimal hands-on time and a few simple ingredients, this Easy Peach Freezer Jam will be a delicious taste of summer all year long! We've got all your questions covered for this no-fail recipe!
- 4 ½ cups granulated white sugar
- 4 large or 5 medium-size ripe peaches see exact measurement for peaches below in step 3
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 ½ ounces (98g) of powdered pectin (I use 2 boxes of SureJell which is readily available at most larger supermarkets. Each box is 1.75 ounces or 49g.)
- 1½ cups water
Wash and rinse glass jars (or plastic containers) and lids in the dishwasher or with hot soapy water. Dry thoroughly.
Cut the peaches in half from top to bottom. Remove the pit then slice each half into ¼-inch slices. Dice the slices into ¼-inch pieces or smaller. (I like to use my chopper for this. See post above.)
Measure exactly 3 cups of the diced peaches into a large microwave-safe bowl. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir well for 1 minute.
Place the bowl in the microwave on high power for 3 minutes. (Mixture will not cook, but will become hot enough for the sugar to dissolve). Remove from microwave and stir well for another minute.
Allow this peach/sugar mixture to sit for 1 hour, giving it a good stir after about 30 minutes.
Take a taste to make sure the sugar is dissolved. If it still has a bit of a grainy texture, give it another 3-minute stint in the microwave then stir until sugar is well dissolved. (When the sugar is well-dissolved the mixture will actually deepen in color and lose it's "cloudiness". That's when you're ready for the next step.)
Mix the 1½ cups water and pectin in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir 1 minute, adjusting the heat so the mixture doesn't boil over. Add to peach mixture; stir for 3 minutes (no cheating!).
Fill all the jars to within ½-inch of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers and cover with the lids. Let the jam stand at room temperature 24 hours or until nicely set. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks or freeze up to 1 year. (If frozen, thaw in refrigerator before using.)
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips.
Makes about 6½ cups of jam.
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