This month’s fruit of the Month for the Walmart Mom fruit challenge was simply “stone fruit”. (In the past we’ve done strawberries–I made Tipsy Strawberry Preserves, and Blueberries/Cherries–I made Cherry Lime Syrup)
For those of you not familiar with the phrase, stone fruit refers to fruits with a large, single pit (or “stone”) in the center such as peaches, plums and nectarines. When I went into my Walmart to look around the peaches looked so lovely I knew I had to do something with them!
I’ve done canned peaches and peach jam before, but I really wanted to share something much more unusual with all of you. Something I’ve been dying to try. I remember about 5 years back I was rewatching all the old Little House on the Prairie episodes in order (I’d get the disks from Netflix before I decided to just go to streaming). Anyway, in one episode there was a scene where someone asked Pa if he had enjoyed the pickled peaches they had sent over for him, and he sheepishly admitted that he had eaten the whole jar.
That always had piqued my interest. What the heck were pickled peaches? Were they a sour pickle like a dill or more of a sweet thing? So when this challenge came down I pulled out my Ball canning book and went right to work on “Old Fashioned Pickled Peaches”.
These peaches are a sweet and sour item. If you’ve ever had pickled watermelon rind they are similar to those–think more along the lines of a sour patch kid instead of a jelly bean 🙂 I really enjoyed the flavor, but Princess told me I had to be very sure to tell you all that although they were good, they ARE sour. Of course that makes sense because the syrup you cook them in is made of sugar and vinegar–no water.
Another thing to know about these pickles are that they are a TWO DAY pickle. So you cook the peaches briefly in the syrup and then let them stand in the fridge overnight before reheating and canning. Plan your time accordingly (note: due to life, mine stayed in the fridge for two days)
The first thing that needs to happen in order to make Old Fashioned Pickled Peaches is that you have to peel your peaches. To do this you start by making an X in the bottom of the peach with a paring knife.
Next the peach is dipped into boiling water briefly (I gently set 4 or 5 in the pot at a time and let them sit for about 45 sec to a min). You pull them out and starting at the X you use a paring knife to gently pull off the skin. If there are spots that don’t come off you can redip the peach for a few more seconds.
Next you have to cut the peach in half and remove the pit. This was a pain for me as I did not purchase a “freestone” peach. Just do your best. As the peaches are peeled and pitted you should move them into a large bowl of cool water with either lemon juice, citric acid or “Fruit Fresh” added–this will preserve the color of the peaches and prevent them from browning. The proportions for the lemon juice are 1/4 C to 4 C water.
Next it was time to make the syrup. The base was white vinegar and sugar–but then you infuse the syrup with cinnamon sticks, grated gingerroot, and whole cloves. Since I don’t have a spice bag, I just bundle them up in coffee filters and secure it with a clean rubber band.
The peaches are cooked briefly in the syrup until tender, then cooled and placed in the fridge overnight. The next day you prepare your canner & jars, bring the peach/liquid mixture back up to a boil, then you fill the jars and can.
I’ll admit–I didn’t use the directions specified 16 C of peeled, halved and pitted peaches. I just bought a big bag full and made this up. However, to ensure that my syrup was made in the correct proportions to place the acidity at the safe level for canning in a boiling water batch I made up the full amount per the approved Ball directions. So obviously I had leftover syrup. Not just vinegar/sugar syrup (which doesn’t sound very appealing) but vinegar/sugar syrup that has been infused not only with cinnamon, clove & ginger–but also with peach juice (as some of that works it’s way out into the syrup in the cooking and overnight soaking process). So I simply filled additional jars full of the syrup and canned it right alongside the pickled peaches.
I’m calling it “Pickled Peach Nectar”–and so far it’s been delicious mixed into cold water as a drink with just a bit of a sour kick (like lemonade). I gave a jar to my sister and she’s been adding it to her seltzer (which she makes using a Soda Stream she bought at Walmart)–she said it’s fabulous.
Old Fashioned Pickled Peaches
- 16 C Peaches measured after peeling, pitting and halving, and then treated to prevent browning
- 4 C Vinegar
- 6 C Sugar
- 2-3 Cinnamon sticks
- 2 TBS Whole Cloves
- 1 TBS Ginger--Fresh & Grated
Break the cinnamon sticks into pieces, then tie cloves, ginger and cinnamon sticks into coffee filters.
In a large pot combine sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil and then add the spice bags. Turn down heat and boil gently for 5 minutes
If the spice bags float pop a small hole in each one with a knife--just enough to let a bit of syrup in without letting the spices out.
Add peaches (don't splash!) and boil for 5-10 min--until tender.
Remove from heat, cover and refrigerate.
Prepare all your canning equipment.
Bring peaches and liquid to a boil over medium heat, then remove the spices
Pack peach halves into jars, cut side down, leaving slightly more then 1/2 inch headspace.
Add hot pickling liquid into the jars bringing the headspace to 1/2 inch.
Bubble, adjust headspace, wipe & add lid.
Process 20 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.
Wondering what the other Walmart Moms made? Mom Advice made Fresh Peach Sorbet. I’ll add the rest as they go live!
If you need to brush up on canning–I’ve got a Hot Water Bath Canning Tutorial with lots and lots of pictures.