Pickled Peaches

I've been doing lots of fun canning projects with my friends Laura and Amy! They both have peach trees with these beautiful tiny, thin-skinned peaches, which are perfect for making pickled peaches...

My aunt Laura has fond memories of a recipe my great aunt Lois used to make, so I thought it would be neat to try. They are spicy, tangy, sweet, and gorgeous in the jar, almost luminous. They would be great with roasted meats, or as a small dessert.

We used the recipe from Linda Ziedrich's Joy of Pickling, but she actually uses the open-kettle method, which I don't trust and Cooperative Extension no longer considers safe. We peeled the peaches by blanching them briefly, which cooks them slightly, and it's true that a boiling water bath after that would probably cook them too much. But it's tricky to keep everything hot enough to really seal, and sure enough - my lids popped up and the top fruit started to turn a bit brown, so I just put them in the fridge. Next time I think I'll just leave the skins on, and do the boiling water bath. Here's the modified recipe.

1 cinnamon stick, broken
1 tsp. mace or nutmeg
10 thin slices fresh ginger
1 tsp. allspice berries
1/2 tsp. whole cloves
3 c. sugar
2 1/2 cups water
3 1/2 cups white vinegar
7 pounds small, firm peaches

Combine all but the peaches in a large nonreactive pot, and bring to a boil. Wash peaches very thoroughly, and pack into sterilized quart jars (or, I found these cool pint-and-a-half jars at Lowe's). Pour boiling syrup over, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims with a clean cloth and put on hot two-piece lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes (don't forget to add 10 minutes at 5000 feet, 15 minutes at 7000 feet). Makes 4 quarts.


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