Canning and preserving is something that has long baffled me.  All the boiling water, sterilization, pH balance, differences in elevation and more confounded me and turned me off to the idea.  But darn it, every time I saw someone else mention canning as though it was nothing or post a photo of their pretty preserves, I was so jealous!  I pride myself on having a generally fearless attitude in the kitchen, so it bothered me that canning seemed out of reach.  Eventually I decided that, just like anything else, you have to first try something before you can be successful at it.  My original plan was to choose a recipe that had explicit canning instructions so that I couldn’t possibly mess it up.  Then when I was looking through the numerous recipes I had bookmarked, this one jumped out as the one and even though it didn’t say more than, “Can.” I was still determined to try it.  I looked at many different websites with great information on canning and preserving and somehow I made it through with delicious jam in safely sealed jars.

Having canned and lived to tell about it here are my general thoughts on the topic: it’s actually not all that difficult and I think it will get easier every time now that I have a basic idea about how it works.  To me the only slightly disheartening point is that you need massive quantities of fruit to come up with more than a couple of jars of jam.  When I end up with something as spectacular as this peach vanilla bean jam, all the uncertainty and worry was a small price to pay.  Peach jam has long been a favorite flavor of mine and I love it spread over a piece of wheat toast, a slice of baguette or a fluffy scone when I’m feeling especially indulgent.  Somehow it is even more satisfying when it is jam I have made myself.

Due to all the variability in canning techniques and timing depending on elevation, etc. I will simply link to the resources I used in figuring out my canning process.  Hopefully next time I share a jam or preserve recipe, I’ll be able to give more explicit directions.  If you do not want to go to the trouble of canning, you can simply place your jam in clean jars and store in the refrigerator.  (I don’t know exactly how long it lasts that way but I would guess it is quite a while.)

Do you have a favorite recipe (or several) for fruit preserves?  If so, I’d love to hear about it!  Please use the contact page to share your recipe.  There’s a great chance that your recipe will be shared here on the blog because I have most definitely caught the preserving bug!

  • Yield about 8 cups


3 lbs. ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
3½ cups sugar
1-2 vanilla bean(s), halved lengthwise, seeds scraped out
Juice of 1 lemon


  • 01

    In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, combine all ingredients (including vanilla bean seeds and pods) over medium heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is partially caramelized with a dark orange color.  Discard the vanilla bean pods.

  • 02

    Using your preferred method, can and preserve jam in sterilized jars.  (See this extremely informative guide on the principles of home canning.)  Alternatively, store the jam in clean jars and keep refrigerated.