As a chef, I get few dinner invitations so when my neighbors Jeannie and Dick Poore invited me and my husband for dinner I did not hesitate to say YES! One the menu was a delicious pork roast served with her homemade peach pickles from peaches that she picked herself at a local farm. I was intrigued by them and wanted to know more about their history.
Jeannie grew up in the south. She used to love to help her mother make peach pickles in the summertime. They were always a staple at Thanksgiving and Christmas along with the turkey and the pork. Summer and fall picnics were also an occasion to enjoy the tangy sweetness of this fruit delicacy. According to Jeannie, peach pickles seem to have been forgotten these days. Few cookbooks have a recipe for preparing them and they are no longer found on grocery store shelves. She says they are worth bringing back and I agree ands with peach season in full swing, there is no better time to make them than now
Jeannie’s Summer Peach Pickles
Makes 2 to 3 quarts depending on size of peaches
2 pounds brown sugar
2 cups vinegar
2 small whole stick cinnamon
8 whole cloves
4 quarts fresh whole peaches, washed and stemmed but left whole
In a sauce pan combine the sugar, vinegar and spices and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
Fill another saucepan with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Dip peaches quickly in hot water; then rub off skin with a cloth to avoid damaging the surface of the peach. Place a few peaches at a time in the hot syrup and cook until tender on low heat. ( 2-4 minutes according to size ) Do NOT OVERCOOK.
Flesh should be firm but easily pierced with a fork. Pack into sterilized wide mouth quart jars. Fill each jar completely with hot syrup which includes the cloves and the cinnamon sticks or if desired syrup may be strained.
Place jars on canning rack in a canning pot and fill with water to cover the jars. Bring the water to a boil and then gently cook the peaches in simmering water for 45 minutes to an hour. Cool in pot then transfer jars to cooling rack and let them come to room temperature. Store in cool, dark place.
Note: if you do not wish to can the peaches. Place them in the refrigerator and use within a couple of months.