An easy-to-make pickle that cries out to be served with smoked ham. Make these in the summertime when peaches are inexpensive, and hoard them until the holiday season rolls around.
“I got this recipe from my father, who owned a bakery and made a lot of peach dishes,” says Hiram Bonner. “He would pickle peaches on occasion. I like pickled peaches because of their unusual taste: sweet and tart.”
Yield: Makes 2 quarts
12 large firm but ripe freestone peaches (about 5½ pounds)
1 tablespoon whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon pickling spices
5 cups granulated sugar
2 cups cider vinegar
2 (1-quart) canning jars with brand-new lids and rings (see Notes)
1. Blanch the peaches in a large saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain, rinse under cold water, and peel. Cut the peaches in half vertically, and remove the pits. Stud the peach halves with the cloves.
2. Tie up the cinnamon sticks and pickling spices in a squeezed-dry rinsed piece of cheesecloth. In a 5-quart nonreactive Dutch oven or soup kettle, bring the sugar, vinegar, and spices to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring just until the sugar has dissolved. Add the peaches, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently just until the peaches are heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the peach halves from the syrup and pack them into the hot sterilized canning jars. Discard the spices and return the syrup to a full rolling boil. Pour the hot syrup into the jars, dividing it evenly. Wipe away any spills from the jars’ lips, and screw on the lids and rings. Let cool completely at room temperature. Let stand for at least 1 week before serving.
• Always use brand-new lids and rings. If you are reusing the jars, make sure they are free of nicks and cracks. After filling a jar, wipe away any spilled canning liquid from the jar’s lip with a clean, hot, moist kitchen towel before sealing.
• To sterilize the jars, rings, and lids, boil them in water to cover for at least to minutes, and remove from the water with kitchen tongs. Or wash in a dishwasher and use as soon as the drying cycle has ended. Always put up your pickles in hot jars.
• When filling up the jars with cooking liquid, leave a ¼-inch headspace between the level of the liquid and the top of the jar.
• Cool the pickles at room temperature; the long cooling period will seal the lids properly.
• None of the canning recipes in this book use the “hot water bath” method of preserving. These recipes include enough salt or sugar for preserving without the tedium and mess of the hot water bath. While the hot water method decreases the chance of bacterial growth, it also alters the color and texture of the fruits and vegetables being processed. However, to be on the safe side, it is recommended that you store these pickles in the refrigerator after they’ve cooled, not at room temperature.