As I have written over and over, we have been blessed with friends that become family. One such family is the Duff family. Mr. and Mrs. Duff have both passed away in the last several years, and anyone who knew them feels their absence. Their daughter, Sarah, and her husband are one of our best couple friends, and we love their children like our own. Sarah & Co have been a part of us since there was an “us”, they signed our marriage license, and are Little Guy’s second parents. We have made each other family. We also love Sarah’s brother and his incredible wife and their beautiful daughter. Incredible people raised incredible people, and we are so blessed to call all of the Duffs family.
A couple weeks ago Sarah offered me the gift of peaches from her parent’s peach tree. I gladly accepted, and Little Guy and I went to the house in the pouring rain to pick them before the birds feasted. Little Guy was less than thrilled by the downpour, by the way. The peaches took some time to ripen, and when they were finally ready I made peach jam so we could enjoy their sweetness for the next year or so.
Jam has never made me cry, until today. As I blanched, iced, peeled, pitted, diced, and boiled, I teared up a few times. Remembering the wonderful couple who left us too soon, and thinking about their kids and grandkids made me miss them an awful lot. Telling Superman about my day making the jam made me cry all over again. Such a great couple! Mrs. Duff loved her some Elvis, Mr. Duff loved the outdoors. Family was their first priority, and they loved their family ferociously. Thankfully for so many people in their lives, they loved us all too. What a loving example of extending your family!
There is a whole bunch of this jam going to the Duff kids to eat or share with those who loved their parents. The jars we keep will be savored, with a couple given to friends of ours who worked with and loved Mr. & Mrs. Duff, and were also brought into their great family. I don’t often have such an emotional reaction to a food I’m making, but this was a pretty special experience.
Peach Jam (Sure Jell recipe)
- 4 Cups Peaches, blanched, peeled, and diced (about 3 lbs)
- 2 T Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 tsp butter
- 5 1/2 C Sugar
- Fruit Fresh (optional to keep peaches from browning) *I did not use*
- 1 box Sure Jell Pectin
Sterilize jars, lids, and rings in boiling water, keep warm until ready to use. In several batches, blanch peaches in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then move to an ice water bath to stop them from cooking. Peel off skins and discard pits. Cut each peach half into quarters. Pulse diced fruit in blender 5-7 times to chop fruit into very small pieces, but don’t liquify. Measure exactly 4 Cups of peaches and juice into a large, heavy stockpot. Whisk Sure-Jell into fruit, then add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil over medium high heat, stirring almost constantly. Whisk in 5 1/2 Cups sugar and return to a full rolling boil for exactly 1 minute. Stir frequently during this back-to-boiling process. Remove pan from the heat and skim off any foam with a metal spoon.
Immediately fill sterilized jars to about 1/4 inch from the top. Wipe rim of jars if necessary and secure with lid and ring, hand tightening. Place jars into boiling water bath on a raised rack. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes, making sure water covers jars by 2 inches. Carefully remove processed jars with jar tool and place upright on doubled-up large towels to cool and listen for that amazing sound- pop! When cooled completely, if you can wait that long, make sure to test the seals. If jar lids spring back, it did not seal and needs to be refrigerated and eaten within 2 weeks.
Thank you, Sarah and M, for sharing your parents and their peaches with us. I truly appreciate your generosity and friendship. Being part of the Duff family is truly an honor.