Jam is not terribly difficult to make. Although it’s easy to overthink the process, just keep in mind that jam essentially has one goal: to preserve fruit at the height of its season so that you can slather it on bread or biscuits or whatever you like, whenever you like. You do this by cooking the fruit down with sugar until thickened so that what remains is the pure flavor of the fruit. A pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice serve to give that flavor a little boost. That’s all you need.

Now, if you search for jam recipes online, you’re going to see a lot of hand-wringing about something called pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring starch in fruit that serves as a thickener in jams and jellies, but different types of fruit have more pectin than others. If you’re using low-pectin fruits like berries and stone fruits, you can buy little packets of pectin to help thicken the jam. However, some people don’t like to add the packet pectin because it can often require adding more sugar to balance the flavor. With that in mind, here’s a recipe for Instant Pot peach jam (and a bonus one for figs) that doesn’t require extra pectin.

You may be thinking: aren’t peaches stone fruit? Yes! That’s correct. Although the actual flesh of the peach may be low in pectin, its peels are not. If you leave the peels in the mix while the jam cooks, it should thicken well—and leave a nice, slightly chunky texture. Of course, if you prefer a smoother jam, you can run the peach jam through a food mill or press it through a mesh strainer with a rubber spatula to get rid of the peels. But I rather like the texture with the peels.

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As for the figs, use the juiciest, ripest figs you can find. (I’m sure your neighbor with the giant fig tree hanging over their fence and blocking the sidewalk won’t mind if you swipe a few.) If you end up with figs that aren’t quite juicy, combine the sugar and the fruit and let it sit for a bit before starting the pressure cook cycle. After about twenty minutes the sugar will draw the liquid out of the figs, preventing the pot from scorching.

Photograph by Jenn Hair

 

Instant Pot Peach Jam

3 pounds peaches, peels on, roughly chopped, pits discarded
2 cups sugar
Juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt

  1. Place fruit, sugar, and seasonings in the Instant Pot and stir to combine.
  2. Secure the lid of the Instant Pot and set to cook on high pressure for 2 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally (or let it come down naturally for 15 minutes and then manually release the reset, if you’re in a hurry).
  3. Remove the lid and set to sauté mode. Simmer the jam, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, 5 minutes or so. The jam should be a bit runnier than you’d like when you remove it from heat, as it will thicken further as it cools.
  4. Let cool completely. Store in the refrigerator for short-term use, or freeze to use during the winter.

Fig Jam

3 pounds figs
1 ½ cups sugar
Juice and zest from 1 lemon
Pinch of salt

Follow the Peach Jam steps above.