I'm a long time
eater, first time canner, and this summer I decided to
make jam from peaches we picked locally. My question
is why none of your jam recipes contain pectin, while
all of the recipes given by the Ball company have
pectin in them. Today I canned five jars using your
recipe, and the jars are now relatively cool. The
contents appear fairly liquidy, and I didn't really
have much foam on the surface when I cooked the
peaches. Am I wrong to assume I use no pectin with
your recipes, or should I be assuming one package of
pectin per recipe? Did my jam turn out ok, and will
it set more solidly with time? Or does it sound like
something went wrong in the process?
It probably won't set much more than it is now, sorry :( Unless you use about a quarter unripe peaches, there isn't enough natural pectin in nice yummy sweet ripe ones. My peach jam is often on the soft side, I get impatient and don't cook it long enough.
You have a couple choices: re-cook it to a thicker state and then jar it again or just eat it the way it is. The upsides to just eating it - it's still delicious, you can pour it over vanilla ice cream if it's just too runny to spread, and sometimes putting it in the fridge after opening it firms it up enough for spreading. I've just started using a jelly thermometer to try and see if I get more consistent consistency with borderline fruit like this. Try berry jam, they have so much pectin, when you goof up on those you have to dynamite it out of the jar!
I don't use commercial pectin, because, well, it's just my thing. I never found I had luck with using it, and I liked the idea of working with the natural pectin in fruits. But as you saw, it adds a level of complexity. On today's to-do list for me - open up 5 jars of nectarine jam that didn't set, re-cook them down and jar them again. (the sixth jar went over ice cream for dessert last night, yum)
The most important thing is that if the rims of your jars were perfectly clean before you put the lids on and your jars sealed after a 5-minute boiling bath, you have successfully done a safe batch of preserves. That is the most important thing to learn when starting out. Congratulations!
Now get back in the kitchen and make some more jam - Christmas is coming ;)