Is it possible for something to be heart-warmingly homey and exotically decadent at the same time?  That’s how I feel about the vanilla bean.  The warm rich scent of vanilla conjures thoughts of home-baked goods of all varieties.  However, the vanilla bean itself hails from places like Madagascar and Tahiti.  It is also exceedingly expensive. I believe the phrase: “Are they on CRACK?!?” went through my mind when I saw the price tag at my local grocery store. But curiosity had gotten the better of me.  I’ll admit, watching professional chefs use them on countless cooking shows just looked like so much fun. (I know, I’m a big nerd!)

The spice jar contained exactly two. What would I do with these precious culinary gems? Creme brulee?  Panna Cotta? I pondered many options but in the end I decided to pair them with one of my other all time favorite things in the world (that I happened to have on hand!): peaches!  Vanilla Peach Jam to be precise. I perused many recipes and picked and chose what I liked. This is generally how I cook. I can’t seem to leave well enough alone. I must play. So this is what I came up with. Most recipes called for MUCH more sugar than what I’ve put together. Even though I cut back slightly on the first round of this recipe it still seemed too sweet. I cut way back and the results are nothing short of heavenly. (Am I allowed to say that?) I will admit that I may have had to “sample” this quite a few times as it cooked down…just for quality control, you understand.  Okay, truth be told, it was so good that it’s kind of a miracle there was enough to put into jars.

Vanilla Peach Jam  

  • 8 cups peeled and chopped peaches (about 7 large peaches)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Bourbon (optional)
  1. Put the peaches, lemon juice and 2 cups sugar in a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven.
  2. Slice vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Use the flat side of a knife scrape out the seeds and place in the pot along with the empty pod halves.  
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.  If using, add the Bourbon. I’ve made it both ways and it is delicious with or without.  The Bourbon serves to enhance the flavor of the vanilla, much like adding coffee or espresso to chocolate recipes. Simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.  Stirring occasionally. The peaches will turn a golden, caramelized orange color. 
  4. Allow to cool slightly and ladle into jelly jars (discarding bean pods). When cooled completely store in the refrigerator. It will continue thickening as it cools. If you’re into canning, you could certainly do the whole canning thing with this, but it doesn’t last long enough in our house to worry about needing a longer shelf life!

Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy this:

  1. Spoon some over plain, nonfat Greek yogurt.
  2. Spread goat cheese over a piece of toast, then top with Vanilla Peach Jam.
  3. Warm and serve over vanilla ice cream.

Came up with your own favorite way to enjoy it?  Let me know! 🙂

Oh – and just a friendly tip – You can order vanilla beans online for much cheaper than you can get them at the grocery store!

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