For several winters when I was a young kid, my family vacationed at Mount Tremblant, a ski resort a couple of hours north of Montreal. I’ve heard it’s quite ritzy and modern these days, but when I was there, in the 70’s and very early 80’s, that was definitely not the case. The dining room and lodge were formal in an old-timey kind of way, and just a touch shabby. It was here, as a seven year old, dining at a table with starched white napkins, formal place settings, and an old-school fancy French menu, that I first encountered the Peach Melba–a luscious dessert of fresh peaches topped with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce.
Legend has it that this dessert was invented by the famous French chef Escoffier in the very late 1800s, and named for the famous opera singer Nellie Melba, who was a frequent guest at his restaurant. Whatever the case, I was smitten with Peach Melba, and ordered it for dessert every night for the rest of vacation. It’s still one of my favorite desserts, and I love the fact that its ingredients are simple and few.
With summertime offering up gorgeous, in-season, perfectly-ripe peaches and raspberries, it seems like a great time to make a jam reminiscent of the dessert. This jam is delicious any way you eat it, but for an amazing treat, enjoy a big dollop it on top of vanilla ice cream!
Peach Melba Jam
Yield: 4-5 half-pint (8 ounce) jars
To do ahead of time:
Prepare the calcium water. To do this, combine 1/2 teaspoon white calcium powder (included in the Pomona’s Universal Pectin package) with 1/2 cup water in a small, clear container with a lid. Shake well before using. Note that you will have more calcium water than you will end up using in this recipe; simply store it in the refrigerator for later use.
2 pounds ripe peaches
1/2 pound raspberries (about 1 pint)
1 vanilla bean
3 1/2 teaspoons calcium water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons Pomona’s Universal Pectin
1.) Wash and rinse jars, lids, and screw bands. Set screw bands aside until ready to use. Place jars in boiling water bath canner with a rack, fill at least 2/3 of the way full with water, and bring to a boil. Boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize (add 1 additional minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level), then turn down heat and let jars stand in hot water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small pan, bring to a low simmer, and hold there until ready to use.
2.) Remove and discard peach peels and pits. Then, in a large bowl, mash the peaches thoroughly.
3.) Pick over raspberries to remove any dirt or debris. If raspberries look clean, rinsing is optional. Place raspberries in a bowl and mash thoroughly.
4.) Combine the mashed peaches and the mashed raspberries and mix well. Measure out 4 cups of the mashed fruit mixture. (If you have extra, simply use it for something else). Pour the measured amount of fruit into a large saucepan.
5.) Using a paring knife, slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the vanilla bean seeds, as well as the bean pod itself, to the mashed fruit. Add lemon juice and calcium water to the fruit, then stir to combine.
6.) In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and the pectin powder. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
7.) Put the sauce pan on the stove and bring the fruit mixture up to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the sugar-pectin mixture, then stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, still over the highest heat, to dissolve pectin. Return the jam to a boil, then remove from heat. Using tongs, remove the vanilla bean pod and discard.
8.) Remove hot jars from canner and fill jars with jam, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, and put on lids and screw bands, tightening bands only to “fingertip tight” (until resistance is met, and then just the tiniest bit more).
9.) Place jars in the hot water, on the rack inside the canner. (Make sure jars are upright, not touching each other or the sides of the canner, and are covered with at least 1-2 inches of water). Place the lid on the canner, return the canner to a rolling boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (Add 1 minute additional processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)
10.) Turn off heat and allow canner and jars to sit for 5 minutes. Then, remove jars from canner.
11.) Allow jars to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Then, confirm that jars have sealed. Remove screw bands from sealed jars, rinse off outside of jars if necessary, label jars, and store for later use.
Photos by Shelby Collings
Recipe by Allison Carroll Duffy