Posts tagged peaches
Posts tagged peaches
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.
Oh friends. The peaches are canned.
On the one hand: the peaches are done! And I have exciting peach-related canned goods!
On the other hand: there were some lessons learned.
First, the haul:
I also ate more peaches than seems possible. There were days when I had a breakfast peach and then a snack peach and then a dessert peach! Peaches on plain greek yogurt with brown sugar and almonds! Peaches on ice cream! Peaches over steel-cut oatmeal! I didn’t get sick of them! At least not until the very end!
1. Dealing with that volume of peaches requires some amount of time management. We picked up the peaches on Saturday. They ripened around Monday. On Tuesday, I went to Boston and was there through Wednesday. Then I had work on Thursday and Friday. In retrospect, had it been possible, I should have taken a vacation day on Tuesday or Wednesday and canned peaches. This is especially true because pregnancy has made me much more tired than normal, so there are days when walking the dog in the morning, making breakfast and lunch, and being at work is about what I have in me before I run into a brick wall of exhaustion. As it turns out: growing a human inside you takes a lot of energy!
2. It was not until I was facing down boiling hot glass jars and boiling hot peaches that I realized I did not know the best way to pack the peaches into the jars cut side down. It seems so easy when you’re reading the recipe and contemplating room temperature peaches and regular tempera. With the wide-mouth jars, I was able to use a plastic slotted spoon. With the regular-mouth jars, I shifted the peaches around with forks. It was ugly. Anyone out there have a good method for handling this?
3. I don’t have enough very large bowls.
4. Either put bourbon in all the jars going into the canner or none of them.
(By the way, I’m going on vacation, so posting will be light. But I will be posting the recipes eventually)
Things I discovered yesterday evening:
On the upside, it really is very easy to peel peaches.
You want to get a medium to big pot of water boiling on the stove and have a large bowl of ice water handy. I worked one or two peaches at a time, which I’d recommend so the hot water stays hot and the cold water stays cold. It also ensures that you don’t leave peaches in the boiling water for too long (which would result in boiled peaches, not peeled peaches).
Cut an X in the bottom of the peach.
Dunk the peach in the boiling water. Count to 30 or 60. The water shouldn’t stop boiling. I have to count out loud or I forget.
After 40 seconds or so, scoop the peach out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon (you can drop in a second fresh peach immediately, start counting again). The skin of the first, just-boiled peach should be peeling back where you sliced into the bottom. Dunk the first peach in the ice water.
Fish your peach out of the ice water (are you still counting? keep counting, just fish out the second peach when you get to 40 or so and drop it into the ice water). Peel back the skin at the edges of the X. The skin should peel off very easily.
I found I got a good rhythm going between slicing the bottoms of peaches, dunking them in the boiling water, then the ice water, then peeling. You may want a lid handy for the pot of boiling water to keep it from cooling down too much.
And because it’s been a while, here’s a picture of Cashew with the dog bed I placed on the couch so he could sit on the couch without getting it all dirty: