A peck too much pepper for the peach

One thing I’ve learned in my 4-5 years of jam making is that you can always play with the recipe a bit, substituting lime for lemon, adding some honey instead of sugar, throwing in herbs at the end, swapping one fruit for another, or mixing two different fruits and figuring out which taste will come out on top.

But I admit my latest batch of peach peppercorn jam probably smashes up against the limits of what works. Bottom line: if you halve the recipe, don’t virtually double the peppercorns and expect the finished product to turn out well.

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I was trying to recreate something that hit the jackpot three years ago when I first tried tweaking a recipe that added ground white pepper to nectarine jam for my own peach-white peppercorn creation with a subtle and almost invisible bite. I’ve done it a couple of times since, including once with black pepper instead of white, But it never quite made the magic of those first few glorious jars.

This time we had a little confusion about how many peaches we needed for our weekend jamming session, and after using most of the stash in the deep blue peach blueberry jam I blogged about last week, there were only enough left over for 3/4 of this particular recipe. And the peaches were not quite ripe enough as well, so there was more waste than normal, so I probably ended up with just over half of what I should have.

No matter, I boiled it up with the sugar, put it in the fridge to sit around for a couple of days, and then boiled it up again on Monday night, just like Tigress in a Jam says I should.

Except that between Saturday’s first simmer and Monday’s finish things up fast boil, I managed to forget that I had used fewer peaches than Tigress told me to. And I didn’t bother to count out my 20 peppercorns anyway so I’m guessing it was more like 25 peppercorns, or maybe even more. I gave up on my cheap and cheerful candy thermometer, which never seems to get above 100C, and did the jam by feel.

The result: It looks pretty, and it set to perfection, with pretty, chewy chunks of golden fruit suspended in a golden syrup. But there’s a seriously overwhelming taste of pepper, which might or might not mellow with time.

Oh well. If it doesn’t  mellow, which it probably will a little, it gives me an excuse to play with an interesting sounding recipe that uses nectarine jam in a glaze for chicken, along with herbs, and carrots as a vegetable base. I’m already plotting trying it with organic chicken thighs, garlic from the garden and minced up onions instead of garlic and onion salt, and perhaps with beets as well as carrots.

Any other ideas on what to do with some excessively peppery peach-peppercorn jam?

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

I finally got around to opening one of the jars, and the over-the-top pepper has mellowed out quite nicely, and the set is perfect. This pairs beautifully with plain Greek yogurt. Must. Make. Again.

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1 Comment »

  1. whimsy said

    It’s always good to try new things. maybe you can pair it with a sugar cookie (no butter), or a pastry shell that’s been soaked in lemon with a raisin paste on the bottom… Or your on alternatives sound yummy too!

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