Last weekend, I taught a canning and preserving workshop at the Omega Institute in the Hudson Valley. On my drive up there, my car was packed to the gills with pots and pans, jars, bowls, cutting boards, jars (I brought 13 cases and ended up dashing out between sessions for two more boxes of quarter pints), and well over 100 pounds of produce.
Of the 12 preserves we made over the course of the weekend, a full five featured peaches. We canned them in quarters, made peach salsa, tossed slices in cinnamon and dehydrated them, did a batch of chunky, vanilla-laced jam, and finally made jelly out of the peach-flavored juice leftover from canning the quarters. It is, after all, the season for peach canning.
One thing we did not do was make pickled fruit (though I did consider it when building the class schedule). We were making a chutney and doing a couple of other styles of pickling as well, so there just wasn’t room. However, had we had just a little more time, I would have slipped in this recipe for pickled peaches.
There is something about pickled fruit that I just really like. A few slivers spooned from a jar easily serves as a sweet, bright, and tangy counterpoint to any number of meals (and is particularly welcome during the relentless cold and grey of winter). I particularly like to braise well-salted chicken thighs in a slurry of browned onions slices and pickled peach segments. Served over creamy millet, it’s a winner of a dish come November.
The eagle-eyed among you might look and this recipe and think that it looks familiar. If you have this thought, you are not wrong. The brine is identical to the one I use for my Gingery Pickled Blueberries and works equally well with peeled pear slices. Pickled fruit. It’s hard to go wrong.
Note: You may notice that in these pictures, the peaches are not peeled, yet in the recipe below, I tell you to peel them. I was feeling particularly lazy the day I made these and skipped the peeling step. If you don’t mind having the skins on, feel free to be like me. However, for a more refined pickled peach, remove the skins.
- 4 pounds peaches
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup filtered water
- 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
- 3 inches fresh ginger, sliced
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and three pint jars and new lids.
- Cut peaches into quarters and remove pits. Place in a large, heatproof baking dish. Bring a kettle of water to a boil as you prep the peaches.
- Once all the peaches are cut, place the pan in the skin, and pour the boiling water over them. Set a timer for three minutes.
- While the peaches resting in the water so that their skins loosen, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and ginger slices in a four quart saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- When the time is up, tip the hot water out of pan and run cold tap water over the peaches to make them cool enough to handle.
- Remove the peels from the peach segments. If you start at the stem end, they should come free fairly easily. Use a paring knife on any tough bits. If your peaches are quite large, you can cut them into thinner slices (that's what I did in the batch pictured above).
- As you work, slip each peeled peach bit into the simmering pickling liquid.
- Once all the peaches are peeled, remove the jars from your canning pot.
- Using a slotted spoon, divide the peach segments between the jars. Top with the hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Make sure to tuck 2 or 3 ginger slices into each jar.
- Use a chopstick to wiggle out any trapped air bubbles and add more liquid, if necessary.
- Wipe the jar rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 20 minutes.
- When time is up, remove jars from canner and place them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and check seals. Any unsealed jars should be kept in the refrigerator.
- Let jars sit for at least 24 hours before eating to all the flavors to settle.