Recipe: Peach jam with fresh grated ginger
Peaches are one of Kristina’s favourite childhood memories. Add a bit of ginger and you can make this stunning jam.
Words: Kristina Jensen
Anyone remember Benny Hill? When I think of peaches, I think of British comedian Benny Hill because peaches represent forbidden fruit in more ways than one in our family.
Every Thursday night when I was a teenager, Mum headed out to a Toastmistress meeting, returning around 9:30pm. On this special occasion, my father would let my brother and I stay up and watch the otherwise forbidden comedy show, Benny Hill. At around 9:20pm, he’d get up and peek through the curtain to see if headlights were coming up the driveway, and if they were, he would hiss at us, “Quick! Into bed. Now!” We would race off to our rooms with the theme song from Benny Hill playing in the background.
One particular episode stands out in my mind concerning the topic of this article. It was a Benny Hill-style advertisement for toilet paper that began with a tastefully-arranged shot of a sausage and a peach. The punch line ran something like this: “… and your peach will like it too”. It still sends Dad and I into fits of laughter every time we recall it.
Peaches are a fruit of the gods as far as I am concerned, but they can be a bit finicky when it comes to ripening. It always happens when you’re someplace else. The juicy globes either fall to the ground, bruised and bird-pecked, or go green and mouldy while you sleep.
Fortunately I have inherited my mother’s good eye for peaches and at this time of the year I’m on the look-out for roadside trees. Over the last 12 years I have built up a mental map of peachy locations where I either pick them for free or, as long as I call in and ask, pick up windfalls.
One of my favourite stories is my mother’s peach stealing story. Her family owned a small bach in Raglan on the Waikato’s west coast along with the empty section next door. She and her siblings would belly down under the gorse and creep up to the neighbours to flog his delicious peaches which, she tells me, didn’t necessarily just hang over the fence.
I was sure she had said that the old man shot at them in one version, but she assures me that although he threatened to do many things to them, shooting wasn’t one of them. Her father always denied his children’s misdemeanors for the simple reason that they hadn’t brought him any peaches to eat so it couldn’t have been us!
For this recipe, the peaches don’t have to be super-ripe. In fact, the jam turns out nice and chunky if you choose slightly harder fruit, so you don’t have to wait for the peaches to fall off the tree for this one. A gentle shake will dislodge any that are nearly ready.
It’s a jam that can go either way though, runny like the one in the photo, or chunky. It all depends on how far gone your peaches are.
PEACH AND GINGER JAM
2-3 kg peaches, peeled and chopped into chunks
100 – 150g grated fresh ginger (more if you like it spicy)
Squash prepared peaches firmly into a cup, then transfer into a large thick-bottomed saucepan, keeping track of the number of cups. Add an equal amount of cups of sugar, the ginger and half a cup of water. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
Cook for 45-60 minutes. The jam will turn a rich dark colour – stay with it as it burns very easily. Carefully spoon the jam into hot, sterilised jars. Seal and label. If you can, leave it for 2-3 weeks to mature but that’s easier said than done – it’s extremely more-ish, and everyone will want to lick the pot!
If you freeze the ginger first, it’s much easier to grate.