The Pickled Peaches (recipe from Gourmet, August 2005)
Of all the canned peach things, I’m most excited to try the pickled peaches. I’ve never had pickled peaches, but they smelled like holidays and magic when I was making them, and I find the whole idea really intriguing.
Also, my dad was over having tea not long after I made them, and was telling me about how they used to have two peach trees in the yard when he was growing up in Rhode Island, and my grandmother, who is from North Carolina, would make these fantastic spiced pickled peaches. And then the peach trees died and he never ate pickled peaches again. So here we are! Full circle!
And yet, of all the canned peach things, the pickled peaches involved the most recipe frustration.
I halved the recipe, first, which I believe to be unrelated to my frustrations (although the halved recipe still produced 2/3 of the expected yield. Intriguing!). However, the number of peaches called for didn’t really correspond to the weight of peaches called for in the recipe. I think I used 9 peaches, which worked out to about 3.25 - 3.5 pounds. It is a fervent wish of mine that canning recipes would call for the fruit weight rather than the number of pieces of fruit, but life is unfortunately not structured to fulfill all my wishes, however fervent. The amount of vitamin C (to keep the peaches from browning) didn’t really line up with the amount called for in similar recipes— it was a more diluted solution than other recipes instructed. These should have been indications of problems to come, but they were not, somehow.
Also, my peaches were slightly more ripe than I think they ought to have been. There is always room for user error.
So the peaches started to get mushy and a little bruised midway through the macerating time, and they were also starting to brown. After peering worriedly into the refrigerated every half hour or so, I abandoned ship about 4 hours into the 8 - 12 hour chilling time and proceeded with the recipe.
I think it was fine, but I’ll let you know once we crack a jar open.