Peach Jam with Caramelized Onion & Basil

I was thinking of saving this recipe for the September Can Jam but; who am I kidding? We all know that I couldn’t wait that long. And it gives me the perfect excuse (as if I needed one) to dig in to peaches, plums and nectarines one more time before the season ends.

This is another Michel Nischan preserve (he of Strawberry Rhubarb & Caramelized Onion JamPickled Sweet Peppers and Blueberry, Lemon & Chilé Jam fame) and while, once again, there were some discrepancies between his instructions and my real-world results, I expect the taste will be just as fabulous as all of his other recipes.  This was one of those pesky recipes where I had exactly enough jam to fill my jars, so I haven’t actually tasted it yet (and there are way too many open jars in the fridge for me to break into one of these. I love you people, but if you really want to know how this tastes, you need to come to my house and eat up some jam first!).  The set looks firm and I can tell you that it smelled fabulous when cooking. And what is more summery than peaches & basil?  Eventually I’ll crack one open and report back; but in the meantime, you could make it yourself (maybe, hmm, for the Can Jam!) and let me know how it tastes.

For more stone fruit inspiration, take a peek at Peach Salsa, Peach Cascabel BBQ SauceHoney-Spiced PeachesPeach ButterPeach Chocolate Dessert SaucePirate Peaches rum sauce, Peach Preserves with Forsythia & ChiléSpicy Plum Sauce, Local Apricot & Plum Preserves, Roasted Golden Plums with Honey & Sage, and, for those of you lucky enough to still have cherries in season, Preserving Cherries

Adapted from Summer Peach and Caramelized Onion Jam in Homegrown: Pure and Simple by Michel Nischan


Peach Jam with Caramelized Onion & Basil


  • 4 and 1/2 lbs peaches (4 lbs net), peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 cups sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
  • 1 tsp grapeseed oil
  • 6 oz red onion (about 1 medium), sliced into strips
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • zest & juice of one medium lemon
  • 2 tsp fleur de sel (or Kosher salt)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, slivered


  1. As you peel and chop the peaches, mix in a large bowl with the sugar. Set peaches aside to macerate while you prepare the other ingredients (or use the procrastinaty method and macerate peaches, refrigerated, for up to 3 days).
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy, medium stockpot or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onions slices and toss to coat in oil.  Lower heat to medium-low and sauté onions until lightly browned all over, about 10 – 15 minutes. Add wine if onions begin to stick.  Sprinkle with pepper and add remaining wine to deglaze the pan; scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  3. If canning, prepare canner, jars and lids.
  4. Add the peaches in sugar, the lemon zest & juice and the fleur de sel.   Raise heat to high and bring to a boil; continue to boil until the mixture thickens, bubbles thickly and reads about 216 degrees F on an instant thermometer, about 30 minutes.  Add basil; stir and bring back to a boil.   
  5. Fill hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch headspace and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Yields about 5 cups.


  1. The orginal recipe called for fresh lemon verbena, which I replaced with basil; I love lemon verbena, and am sure it would be fabulous in this recipe, but the truth is it is impossible to find unless you grow your own. No garden this year, so no lemon verbena.
  2. The original recipe also called for 6 and 1/2 cups of raw can sugar. That seems very excessive for Nischan, who normally does not use a lot of sugar in his recipes. I cut the amount way down, looking for a jam with a more savory note.  Taste your jam and your peahces and adjust the sugar according to your taste.
  3. This was one of those jams that seemed like it would cook forever and never reach 220 degrees. Nischan’s instructions were to “cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thick.”  I stopped at 30 minutes and about 216 degress F because I felt like I was over-cooking it; I have to open one to check on the texture one of these days.


Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year (Nischan says 6 months).  Refrigerated, use within 3 weeks.




  1. This looks amazing! It’s definitely on my list to make this season. This would probably be really good as a glaze for chicken… or on brie and crackers…

    I think this just moved to the top of my “to make” list.

    PS. So glad someone else has the problem of too-many-open-jars-in-the-fridge. I think I’m up to 6? So terrible. Must eat jam on everything from now on!

  2. I just made 2 batches of peach butter, but now I want to go out and get more peaches to make this! I would never have thought of adding caramelized onions.

    May I ask, how do you design/make your labels? I’m new to canning, and am trying to figure out the best way to label my jars!

  3. Hi Julie,

    Caramelized onions are one of Nischan’s tricks to add another layer of flavor & sweetness to preserves: I think it works really well.

    I make my labels in MS Word: I use the round Avery labels (2 and 1/2 inch diameter, #5294; you can find them at Staples or online) and downloaded the Avery template. After that it is text boxes and a little WordArt. It is not the quickest or easiest system out there (which would be Sharpie & masking tape, I think!) but it’s handy when I want to use the preserves as gifts.

    Lelo in Nopo inspired the latest design and she sells her beautiful labels on Etsy:

    You can also download some cool & cute labels from Sweet Preservation:

    I’m sure you’ll find a system that works for you. Happy canning!


  4. I thought those labels of yours looked lovely. 🙂 Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I like your modern take on them. And thank you for sharing all of these great recipes!

  5. Thanks, Lelo. I much prefer “homage” to “blatant rip-off.” 🙂

    My labels are constantly evolving (I think my middle name should have been “can’t leave well enough alone) so we shall see where they go from here.

  6. Natasha

    I was wondering when you put the labels on underneath the ring cap. Before putting it in the water bath canner or are you taking the ring off afterwards to put the label on?

    I just found your site today while canning and got very inspired!

  7. Hi Natasha,

    The labels are paper and would not survive the water bath. I usually let my jars cool for about 24 hours, then remove rings, wipe off any white residue (from salts & hard water deposits) then label. It is best to store jars without the rings, actually (although I often replace the bands). Storing without the bands allow you to notice immediately if a seal should fail.

    Thanks for the nice comments – I hope you put up some of the harvest this year! You won’t regret it.

  8. Natasha

    Wow! I didn’t realize its best to store without the bands! It makes sense that you would see if the seal failed but are you worried that the lid might get “knocked” off or something while moving them?

    Yesterday I canned a peach ketchup and a tomato sauce, although I wish I had found your site and the can jam before I started my tomato sauce!

  9. Hi Natasha,

    If you have a good seal, it should take more than knocking about to remove the lids (I use a plastic jar opener thingy and there is an audible “pop” when you release a lid that has been properly vacuum-sealed).

    I have to admit I have only just started storing my jars without the bands; mostly because my 3 year-old bands have started to rust and as I discard them, I simply use newer bands in rotation, then store the jars with only the lid. It is the recommended procedure, however, such that it is very obvious if a seal fails.

    The very first thing I ever canned was tomato sauce; my ‘usual’ version and with no added acid. It wasn’t until I did a bit of research on canning that I realized I needed to keep those jars in the fridge. 🙂

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  11. Marion

    I made this tonight and it never got to 220 degrees for me either. But it smells and tastes fantastic! It turned out sweeter than I expected, but I think it would be delicious over chicken or ham… or cheese… or crackers. Really, I just can’t wait to eat it. Thanks for the recipe!

  12. I just made this with thyme instead of basil, since I’m on a bit of a thyme kick, and can’t believe how delicious it is!!!! It’s going to be hard not to eat it all up immediately. Maybe with some brie. Thank you!

  13. Pingback: 10,000 hours of peaches |

  14. Pingback: 10,000 hours of peaches | The Homemade Wine Blog

  15. sallie

    How can you cut the sugar and still maintain the saftey standars of canning and preserving? The sugar is the all natural preservative and per the FDA you have to have 55% sugar in a jam or preserve to make it safe. You need to watch the contents of your jars for mold.

    • Sallie,

      Sugar is indeed a preservative: sugar contributes to jam’s traditional texture by aiding in the gel, and helps to maintain the bright color of a fruit jam, but in terms of “safety,” sugar is inconsequential. Sugar has no impact on botulism growth (with the possible exception of very high-sugar preserves, in which sugar is acting to remove available water necessary for botulinum toxin production); most other molds and bacteria require oxygen to propagate, and as such will not grow in a jar of low-sugar fruit jam that is properly sealed.

      FWIW, I’ve never opened a sealed jar of preserves and encountered mold. Low- or no-sugar preserves do tend to have a shorter shelf-life once you have opened the jar and are storing in the refrigerator.

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  17. Pingback: 10,000 hours of peaches

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