Peach Jam

Make the sweet flavors of summer last for months.

Peach Jam
Photo: Photography: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox
Cook Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
6 half-pint jars

In the South, the peach is the quintessential fruit of summer. That first bite into a ripe, juicy peach of a new season is an experience you yearn for all year—nectar running down your face and arms, leaning over the sink, trash can, or the grass in your front yard so the juice doesn't get on your clothes. There is no putting that baby down until you've inhaled every bit of sweet flesh from the pit, and the inevitable, "Oh yea! That was a good peach!" That is the taste of summer in the South.

Everyone who loves peaches knows that peach season is a time to celebrate the bountiful harvest that tragically only lasts for a couple of months out of the year (June-August to be exact). I'm not talking about those imported peaches from South America you start finding in the grocery stores in Spring. We are talking Southern, local, from the farmers' market or nearest fruit and vegetable stand; from your MeeMaw's peach tree that's as old as you are in her backyard; Peach Park in Chilton County, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Regardless of which state you get your peaches from, which is probably the same state whose football team you pull for, we want to savor every last delicious drop. The best way to do that is by making homemade Peach Jam. Store-bought peach jam can never compare to the flavor of homemade Peach Jam with fresh, peak season peaches. You will have that delicious flavor you crave available to you months and months after peach season has come and gone.

What's in Peach Jam?

You don't want to mask the floral, fresh flavors of peaches, so this ingredient list is short.

peach jam ingredients
Photography: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

You want to use ripe or overripe peaches for making jam. The high sugar content and already soft texture of a ripe or overripe peach is ideal for cooking. Cut out any bruises or bad spots, but keep the rest of the fruit and cut it up and cook it down into a delicious syrupy spread.

Ripe peaches may already be quite sweet, but sugar is essential for making jams, jellies, and preserves of any kind. Sugar (and a combination of lemon juice or pectin) is what thickens the jam and gives it the consistency we are all so fond of. To achieve the best results, use granulated sugar or raw cane sugar versus another sugar substitute.

Lemon Juice
Lemon juice, along with sugar, thickens the jam mixture, aids in the preservation, and the acidity adds an extra tart kick that brightens an already super-sweet spread. Lemon juice and sugar as a thickener can be used with or without pectin as lemon is naturally high in pectin.

Pectin is a starch naturally derived from fruits and veggies. It is easily found at most grocery stores and even some markets where local produce is sold, and can come in powder or gel form. This is what gives jams and jellies its gelatin-like texture.

In this recipe, we will be using lemon juice and sugar instead of pectin.

Once you decide to use pectin for making your jam, it is important to note the ratio of fruit to sugar to pectin is very specific if you want the jam to set just right.

For peach jam specifically, we want to keep any flavoring to a minimum as to keep the peach flavor strong. Some people like to add a dash of cinnamon or allspice to their peach jam, which adds a warm richness which I have to admit is very delicious.

You can also combine fruits or even add some chopped up hot peppers and make a pepper jelly. Yum!

For this peach jam, we are keeping it super straightforward and adding a touch of vanilla and a pinch of salt to enhance the peach flavor and add depth and balance.

How to Make Peach Jam

Getting started on your homemade peach jam is as simple as gathering your ingredients from your pantry and putting them all together.

Step 1. Prep your peaches

First, peel your peaches (see how-to steps below), and separate the meat of the fruit from the pit. Chop the peaches; the exact size doesn't matter. All pieces will cook down quite a bit and get mashed.

Step 2. Combine ingredients

Add peaches, sugar, and lemon juice to a sauce pot, and stir to combine. Turn the heat on to med-high, and stir constantly while the sugar dissolves and the peaches release their juices.

making peach jam
Photography: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Let the mixture boil for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add your vanilla and salt. Remove from the heat, and let cool slightly before putting into jars.

homemade peach jam
Photography: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

How to Know When Peach Jam Is Done

The best way to know if your Peach Jam is done is by using a thermometer to test the "gel point"—220°F is the temperature where the sugar and the pectin form a bond. Overcooking the jam, or getting it too hot, can actually break down the pectin, and your jam will not set properly.

Another method to test your jam's jamminess is by using the plate method or freezer test. This one I learned in culinary school, not from my MeeMaw, funny enough.

Remove jam from heat, and place a dollop on a plate that has been in the freezer for as little as 5 to 10 minutes. (Bonus points if you put it in the freezer before you start cooking.) Return the plate to the freezer. Let it sit for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the plate from the freezer, and using your index finger, run your finger through the middle of the mixture on the plate. If the jam mixture feels firm, gel-like, and does not run inwards where your finger left a line then it is ready to go.

If the jam fails this test, return the mixture to the heat and cook for a few more minutes. and try again. It can take 24 to 48 hours for a jam to fully set.

How to Peel Peaches

The best way I have found to peel a peach is to blanch the peaches whole. This saves you from wasting any precious fruit.

Use a paring knife, cut an x at the bottom of the peach. Place the peaches in boiling water for 1 minute. Immediately transfer them to an ice bath, and let them sit for another minute. Then peel back the now-loose skin. Voila!

This method won't be as effective when working with over ripe peaches. Once peaches become very ripe, the skin sometimes releases easily without needing to blanch them, and they can be peeled the same way. If this doesn't work, consider leaving the skin on, which when cooked down become very soft and completely blend in.

How to Can Peach Jam

If you are an experienced canner, you can skip this next bit. Canning seems like an intimidating process, but it doesn't have to be all scary with a pressure cooker, heat-resistant suit, and face mask. I'm kidding about the suit and mask, mostly. A very approachable way to canning at home is by using the water bath method:

peach jam in jars
Photography: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

1. After sterilizing jars, pour jam mixture into the jars. Pint jars are best for canning jams and jellies.

2. Leave a ¼- to ½-inch headspace at the top of the jar.

3. Seal the jars, making sure the rim and sides of the jar are clean. Close the lid until just tight. If the lid is too tight, the air won't release properly, and if it is too loose it won't seal.

4. Place your jars in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and leave jars to sit for 5 more minutes. Let jars cool fully for up to 12 hours.

To check if your jars are sealed properly, remove the band and press your finger in the center of the lid. If the lid indents, then the jar did not seal. Store sealed, unopened jam for up to 1 years (put a date and label on it), but always check your jars for spoilage upon opening.

Learn more about the home canning process.

How to Store Peach Jam

Don't want to can your jam? No problem! Your fresh Peach Jam can be put up in other ways and will last months, even up to next year's peach harvest!

Just put it in the fridge

Fill your jars with jam, being sure to leave that ¼- to ½-inch headspace, seal with lid, and store in the fridge. Refrigerator peach jam will last two weeks once opened, and up to three months if unopened.

Freeze it

Your homemade peach jam can also be frozen! Transfer the finished jam into quart-size freezer bags. Lay flat, label, and freeze. They will keep up to one year. After thawed, transfer the jam to a container with a lid, and keep in the refrigerator for two weeks.

How Long Does Peach Jam Last?

Store your sealed jars of peach jam in a cool, dry place. Sealed jars of peach jam that have been properly stored, are undamaged, and don't seem to be spoiled are good for up to two years. Be sure to date and label your jars!

Signs of spoilage look like mold, and an off smell, taste, and appearance.

Once you open the jar, store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

How to Serve Peach Jam

The part we've all been waiting for! All that time researching, prepping, and cooking, and now you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Peach jam is so versatile! Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy it:

- Vanilla ice cream topped with peach jam and graham cracker crumbs
- Greek yogurt with peach jam and toasted almonds
- Good old-fashioned PB&J
- On pancakes or waffles
- With soft cheeses like brie, goat, or blue cheese and crackers
- Use peach jam in a vinaigrette: Mix with rice wine vinegar, EVOO, a dollop of Dijon, and salt and pepper.
- Use as a glaze for pork tenderloin: Sauté chopped garlic in a skillet with oil, and add peach jam. Stir until combined and the jam mixture is loose. Brush onto pork tenderloin while roasting or grilling.

Tips for the Perfect Peach Jam

No need to worry if you missed peach season. Frozen peaches work just as well as fresh. Cooking time may take longer since frozen peaches will release excess water. Use a thermometer to make sure your jam reaches the 220°F "gel point" so your jam will set.


  • 4 lbs. fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped

  • 2 lemons, juiced (about ¼ cup)

  • 3 cups sugar

  • 2 tsp. vanilla

  • 1 tsp. salt


  1. Combine peaches and lemon juice in a sauce pot. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, stirring often with a spatula, whisk, or potato masher to help break up the peaches.

  2. Add sugar, and stir well. Return to a boil and cook for 20-25 mins or until mixture reaches 220°F, stirring often. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and salt, and stir to combine.

  3. Pour peach jam into 6 clean and sterilized half-pint jars, leaving proper headspace. Seal with lid, and process using the water bath canning method. You can also refrigerate or freeze for short-term use.

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