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Making pickled peaches

Pickled PeachesWhat a fun assignment to choose the top five spots with pickled vegetables for Best of the Big A! I adore pickled vegetables and I owe that to my grandmother. Her pickled peaches introduced me to the world of pickles.

My grandmother had peach trees positioned about her yard, which yielded dozens of small peaches perfect for pickling. She spent hours laboring in the kitchen to can the peaches in her oversized white-speckled pot. When our family gathered for lunch at her house each Sunday, one of us was sent to the cellar to retrieve a jar of pickled peaches.

I remember studying those brown-tinged half-moons bobbing in the jars and puzzling over their sweet-vinegary flavor. I was enamored. On special Sundays, we popped open a second jar just for me.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had pickled peaches. I haven’t found them at any of the market stands selling pickled veggies and the like. So, I broke out my own oversized speckled pot — mine black — to make pickled peaches.

First, I called relatives in an attempt to locate my grandmother’s recipe, but it appears it was never recorded. I researched a number of recipes online and in cookbooks and cobbled together my own.

My first attempt at making pickled peaches went smoothly, but I definitely learned a few tricks for my next attempt. First, my peaches were not completely ripe and they were not freestone peaches (cling-free). In my impatience to pickle them, I cut the fruit away from the seed in unappealing chunks — far different from my grandmother’s perfect half moons.

To further complicate matters, I sliced the chunks hoping to make them marginally more attractive. During the cooking and canning process, however, the peaches disintegrated into even smaller chunks. Moral of the story: buy freestone peaches, wait until they are ripe and cut into those perfect half moons or large slices.

Here’s the recipe I used, which made four pint-sized jars of pickled peaches. (It would probably make more if you cut the peaches appropriately).

Ingredients:

  • 8 lbs small peaches, peeled and cut into halves (treated for browning if you choose)
  • 6 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp cloves
  • 1.5 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 quart vinegar

Instructions:

  • Tie spices in cheesecloth and combine them with sugar and vinegar in a large pot over high heat.
  • Once the liquid is boiling, add the peaches and cook until tender.
  • Remove from heat, cover and allow mixture to steep overnight (or a day if you’re hasty like me).
  • Reheat the peach mixture, discard the spices and continue the canning process as recommended by your equipment.

Have you tried pickled peaches? What is your favorite pickled item?

–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog

– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team. She also publishes her own blog, Going Low Carb.

9 comments Add your comment

M. Johnson

June 21st, 2011
9:41 am

This brings back so many memories of my great-great aunt canning peaches on her farm. Like you, my family has lost those treasured recipes, and it’s a shame.

I may just try your version. Thanks for sharing.

Jenny Turknett

June 21st, 2011
10:15 am

M. Johnson – Let me know what you think if you try them! And, searching for my grandmother’s recipes makes me realize that we now have the responsibility of recording our parents recipes while we can so that we may pass them along to our children.

Kar

June 21st, 2011
10:23 am

Not skilled enough to do real pickling but I like okra refrigerator pickles.

Nuke some in a little lemon vinegar, crushed hot peppers and garlic for a few minutes, not enough to fully cook them. Then add enough ice cubes so that the liquid covers the okra entirely. The ice stops the cooking and retains the color. Also dilutes the vinegar to a reasonable level.

I tend to use the small thai peppers because they’re fiery without too much bulk and I don’t have to worry about the thin flesh spoiling too fast. You can find lemon vinegar in Asian groceries like BFM. It’s found in the Korean aisle, not the Japanese, Chinese, African, Thai, Malaysian, etc. (Even the employees couldn’t find it without knowing its origin)

SP

June 21st, 2011
10:32 am

What do you do with pickled peaches?

Edward

June 21st, 2011
10:45 am

My Mom has made pickled peaches as long as I can remember, they’ve always been one of my favorites. She only uses the “cling” peaches, the ones that have a hard-to-remove stone, as they have a firmer flesh that doesn’t fall apart.

A pickled peach compote served with a roast pork loin is very tasty.

ted

June 21st, 2011
11:44 am

I’ve done the pickled peach recipe from Joy of Pickling, but it’s been several years. I believe those were whole. My Mom’s comment was that, growing up in Lower Alabama, pickled peaches were a Thanksgiving condiment prior to the ubiquity of canned cranberry sauce.

PTC DAWG

June 21st, 2011
5:23 pm

Linda

June 21st, 2011
7:49 pm

The pickled peaches of my grandmother’s kitchen were whole. How wonderful sliced off the pit and served over her pound cake and ice cream…or with country ham on a Sunday after church.

Soupy Sales

June 22nd, 2011
1:08 pm

When returning to Atlanta from summer trips to Florida, we always stop at the wonderful Lane’s Orchards in Fort Valley, GA (5 mins. off I-75) for lunch, homemade peach ice cream, and a basket of peaches. We were there this past Sunday and – - while the fresh-picked peaches are still a couple of weeks shy of perfect ripeness – - I did notice that they sell nice big jars of pickled peaches. Turns out they also sell them online for those who are unable to pickle our own:

http://shop.lanesouthernorchards.com/product/167/Popular_Peach_Products