- 6 pounds small firm-ripe peaches about the size of apricots
- 4 quarts (1 gallon) cold water, mixed with 2 teaspoons powdered ascorbic acid (acidulated water)
- 4Â˝ cups sugar
- 3 cups cold water
- 1Â˝ cups white (distilled) vinegar
- 1Â˝ cups cider vinegar
- 3 cinnamon sticks, broken in several places
- 3 large blades of mace
- One 2-inch strip lemon zest
- One 2-inch strip orange zest
- Whole cloves (2 for each peach)
In many parts of the South, the Thanksgiving turkey or Easter ham wouldnâ€™t be the same without pickled peaches or Bourbonâ€™d Peaches.
- Blanch the peaches in batches in boiling water, allowing 30 seconds for each. Transfer at once to ice water, then slip off the skins. Submerge the peeled peaches in the acidulated water while you prepare the pickling syrup.
- Place the sugar, water, and two vinegars in a very large nonreactive kettle. Tie the cinnamon, mace, and lemon and orange zests in cheesecloth and drop into the kettle. Set over moderately high heat and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, lift the peaches from the acidulated water and stud each with 2 cloves. As soon as the pickling syrup boils, ease 6 peaches into the kettle, adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently, and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift the peaches to a large heatproof bowl. Repeat until all the peaches have cooked 5 minutes.
- Bring the pickling syrup to a rolling boil, return all of the peaches to the kettle, then set off the heat, cover, and let stand overnight.
- The next day, wash and rinse 8 one-pint preserving jars and their closures and submerge in a large kettle of boiling water.
- Lift the peaches from the pickling syrup with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large bowl. Set the kettle over high heat and quickly bring the pickling syrup to a full boil. Discard the spice bag.
- Pack the peaches as attractively and tightly as possible in the hot preserving jars, filling to within ÂĽ inch of the top, then ladle in just enough boiling pickling syrup to cover the peaches. Run a thin-blade spatula around the inside of each jar to release air bubbles; wipe the rim with a clean, damp cloth, then screw on the closure.
- Process the jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath (212Â° F.). Lift from the water bath; complete the seals, if necessary, by tightening the lids, then cool to room temperature.
- Date and label each jar, then store on a cool, dark shelf for about a month before serving.