Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The First Canning Project of the Harvest Season: Pickled Peaches!

Peaches don't grow here in the North Country, but we do get lovely ones from downstate, and they are just starting to arrive. I bought a couple of small baskets the other day, and decided to make pickled peaches. I'm not sure where or why this idea entered my head, as I have never even had pickled peaches. But I have never met a pickle I didn't like, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. Maybe they will mellow as they sit in the jar, but my initial impression is that they are mighty powerful ju-ju on their own. (Of course, I only used half the sugar called for and a straight vinegar brine, so there's that.) But I can tell you that they are DEE-licious with some grilled pork chops!

One little tip, though. I had peaches at three stages of ripeness. The ripest ones almost turned to mush in the jar, and the hard ones were too crunchy for my tastes when pickled. So go for the peaches that are just a wee bit underripe, like they need another day on your counter before you'd eat them out of hand. They'll turn out perfectly.

Pickled Peaches
(Source:adapted from GardenWeb's Harvest Forum)

24 small peaches, peeled
3 cups sugar (I cut this in half)
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar

2 tablespoons pickling spice
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
3” section of ginger peeled and thinly sliced (I cut the slices into tiny matchsticks)

Bring a sauce pan of water to the boil, the dunk the peaches in for 30-60 seconds. Strain them into a bowl of iced water to cool, the slip off the skins. Cut the peaches into eighths, and squeeze a little lemon or lime juice (or Fruit Fresh) over them as you work to keep them from turning brown.

Bring the sugar, vinegars, spices and ginger to the boil. Add the peaches to hot jars, then cover with the boiled brine. Remove the air bubbles, wipe the rims, add the lids and rings (fingertip tighten), then process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts.

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