Celebrating National Peach Month - Jam Style

In honor of August being National Peach Month, we wanted to take a deep dive into this iconic and delicious fruit and why we love making it into a jams to savor year-round.  Scroll down for our recipe for Peach Jam Stuffed French Toast.

Peaches are synonymous with summer here in Colorado. As soon as July starts, tents start popping up all over town advertising peaches from Palisade. This summer, I’ve sourced my peaches from Ela Family Farms, the only Certified Organic, fourth generation orchard in the Western Slope.  One of the values of Blue Owl Preserves is that use organic fruit in every jar of jam we make.  Many of the fruits in jams top the “Dirty Dozen” list for highest pesticide contamination including strawberries and peaches. We believe in using clean ingredients for you to feel good giving our jam to your family and this includes limiting the pesticides on the fruit as well. 

One of the great things about working with farms is that I can purchase “seconds”. These imperfect fruits aren’t pretty enough to be sold in grocery stores or at farmers markets, but their imperfections are perfect for jam. These fruits tend to be very sweet because they are picked at peak ripeness, instead of ripening on a store shelf. And this natural fruit sweetness is exactly what I’m looking for in my low sugar jams. It is also a great win-win with the orchard so that they have an outlet for this “ugly” fruit.  

When I’m not making jam, I teach environmental science at Pikes Peak Community College. One of my favorite topics of class discussion is food waste, which combines my current passion for local food with my background in waste reduction and recycling. In the U.S., as much as 40% of the food we produce goes to waste. While some of this is food that we throw out at home, much of this waste happens before produce even leaves the farm field. In addition to sourcing “seconds” for their natural sweetness, I value the opportunity to turn this food that might otherwise go to waste into a value added product that will make its way onto our plates.

To help me with this goal of sourcing more produce that doesn’t have a place to go, I’ve begun working with FoodMaven, a Colorado Springs based company. FoodMaven’s goal is to connect distributors, manufacturers and producers to ensure local, oversupplied and imperfect food gets sold or donated. When I first met the folks from FoodMaven, I immediately connected with their passion for environmental sustainability and ensuring that food is making its way into mouths, not landfills. I’m excited for this new partnership and can’t wait to share more jam made from perfectly imperfect fruits with all of you!

Now let’s take a peek behind the curtain to see how each jar of peach jam is made. Working in batches, the peaches are placed in boiling water and then rinsed with ice cold water to loosen the skin. The peaches are peeled and pitted by hand, a labor intensive process necessary when using fresh, local fruit. Over the course of the next month, I’ll be prepping 500 lbs of peaches for making jam all year long. A small amount of organic cane sugar is then added to the peaches, along with pectin and lemon juice. Jars are filled and then sterilized in a hot water bath. Once cool, I hand-apply labels and the jars are ready for sale.

So what could you do with a delicious jar of low sugar peach jam made from locally grown, organic, imperfect peaches? I had the opportunity to share some of my favorite breakfast ideas with Lauren McDonald from Fox21 News last winter. I’ve included my recipe for peach jam stuffed French toast below. Enjoy!

Peach Jam Stuffed French Toast Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Loaf of French bread
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ t vanilla extract
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • ¾ c Blue Owl Preserves peach jam

Directions:

  1. Cut the French bread into thick slices, about an inch thick. Cut a horizontal opening into one side of each piece of bread to make a pocket. Be sure to not cut all the way through.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix cream cheese and peach jam. Spread the cream cheese and jam mixture in the bread pockets.
  4. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add butter. Once the butter has melted, dip the stuffed bread into the egg mixture, coating both sides. Place in the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Be sure to get the thick edges, too!
  5. Serve with a few slices of fresh peaches and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Want a vegan version? Check out Isa Chandra’s delicious alternative: http://www.isachandra.com/2008/10/fronch-toast/.