Sweet and Spicy Pickled PeachesElizabeth Stark
With the first gusts of autumn blowing through Brooklyn, I have been experiencing a certain nostalgia for the summer that has just passed, and so I hit up the Union Square farmers’ market in search of the last few peaches of the season. I was in luck, and quickly snatched as many peaches as I could carry home.
This is actually my first attempt at real pickles (I usually go the quick pickle route), and it will be thrilling to pop the jars open in a few months. I’m going to try and save them for the dead of winter, but I really doubt they’ll make it to the new year.
24 small peaches, peeled
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon brown mustard seed
3″ section of ginger peeled and thinly sliced
4 cinnamon sticks
Wash 4-5 wide-mouth quart jars, and lids in hot, soapy water, rinse, and dry. Set out your largest cooking pot to sterilize the jars. Fill the pot with water, add the jars, rings and lids, cover the pot and bring water to a boil (everything should be immersed). On my stove this process takes almost an hour, so be patient. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat, return cover, and let everything sit in the hot water while you prepare the fruit.
Meanwhile, prepare the peaches and pickling liquid. Combine the vinegars, sugar, and salt in a 4 quart stainless steel pot. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn heat to medium-high for a slow boil, and immerse about 5 peaches at a time to cook for 8 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure that the peaches are pickled on all sides. Remove the cooked peaches to a bowl, and continue working in batches until they are all cooked.
When the jars are sterilized and the peaches cooked, force as many whole peaches as you can into the jars; you should be able to fit 2-4. If any of your peaches have soft spots, cut out the bad flesh and set them aside. Once the whole peaches are in the jars you will need to halve or quarter any additional peaches to pack the jars as tightly as possible. Then bring the pickling liquid back up to a boil and ladle over the peaches until the liquid is just 1/4″ from the top. Carefully wipe the jar tops, and put the lids and rings in place. Using the sterilizing pot, process the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Make sure there is at least 1″ of water over the jar tops.
Remove from the water, and set aside to listen for the popping sound. If one of the jars doesn’t seal overnight, refrigerate and use within the month.
Serve with a robust protein, as a standalone snack or dessert, or piled atop ice cream.