Living in South Carolina in the summer is full of pluses and minuses, namely fresh peaches and devastating heat and humidity. But, the rational part of my mind knows that you can’t have one without the other and so I soldier on, comforting myself with air conditioning and icy drinks while eating all the peaches in sight. Hence, today’s post with a double dose of peaches and bourbon.
My summer canning priorities consist of peach slices, tomatoes, and pickles of various flavors. Out of those, the peach slices are perhaps the most important because of the joy they bring in the dark, cold days of winter. Each slice is like a slice of sunlight and a warm breeze when your toes are frozen and you’re covered head-to-toe in fleece and wool. I like to get fancy with my peaches and one of my favorite canning recipes is for pickled bourbon peaches. They have a very singular flavor that is great no matter the season, especially if some vanilla ice cream is involved.
Our next post will have even more peach/hooch goodness, so stay tuned for that!
Pickled Bourbon Peaches
(adapted from Leena Eats)
- 4 lbs. peaches, peeled and sliced
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup bourbon (we use Benchmark)
- Cinnamon stick/jar
- 1/2 tsp./jar red pepper flake
- 1/2 tsp./jar mustard seed
- 1/2 tsp./jar black peppercorns
- 2 cloves per jar
- Citric acid/lemon juice
Also necessary: canning jars and all other equipment needed to process the jars in a boiling water bath. I like to use pint jars for these. Half pints are just too small for my tastes.
If you are new to canning, check out some of our previous posts or head to your local library/Google for the safe food lowdown. No matter what you do, it is always good to remember: “When doubt, throw it out!”
- Blanch and peel your peaches. This is my least favorite step by far. If you don’t know, blanching involves: scoring the bottom of each peach with a sharp knife, immersing the fruit in boiling water for 30 seconds or so, then place each peach in an ice water bath to cool down. The peel should come right off!
- Slice the peaches in half, remove the pit, then cut each half into slices radially.
- Place the slices in acidulated water to keep them from browning while you work. You can make acidulated water by adding 1/4 tsp. citric acid or a healthy squeeze or two of lemon juice to a bowl of water.
- Prepare your jars, lids, and rings.
- Prepare the boozy pickle by combining the vinegar, bourbon, water, and sugar in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Add a cinnamon stick and the appropriate spices to the bottom of each jar. The spices can be varied depending on the flavors you prefer, for example, I am not a huge fan of cloves or star anise, but I do like adding allspice berries. The mixture of pickle spices and winter spices keeps the flavors from being either too pickle-y or too Christmas-y. You do you!
- Pack your jars with peach slices as tightly as possible. Add the boozy pickle to cover, leaving 1/2″ head space.
- Use a chopstick or other long, pointy implement to release any air bubbles. Wipe the rim of each jar with a clean, damp paper towel. Cover with lids and rings.
- Process pint jars in a boiling water bath for twenty minutes.
- Remove from the water bath and place any jars that do not seal into the refrigerator (after cooling, of course!) and eat promptly.
I love giving these pints away as gifts because they are a little more special than your average jar of jam. They tend to get eaten a bit quicker, too!
Peach Basil Smash
I made this drink up after a day of canning peaches, as something to fortify us while we made fresh pasta for some of the best ravioli I’ve had in some time. It was on the sweeter side because the peaches I used were so beautifully ripe, but that sweetness wasn’t a bad thing. There’s a difference between the sweetness you get from sugar and the sweetness you get from fruit.
Serving the drink without straining it makes for quite the cup of vegetation, which is delicious but a little…chewy. Strain it into a martini glass or coupe for something a bit classier or strain it over ice for something a bit more refreshing and julep-y. Either way, it works beautifully!
- 2 oz. bourbon
- 3/4 oz. lemon juice
- 3-4 slices of fresh, ripe as you can get peach
- 3 basil leaves
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Muddle the peach slices, basil leaves, and lemon juice together. Add bourbon and bitters, and shake thoroughly with ice. Strain over crushed ice or into a martini glass and garnish with basil. If serving over ice, a splash of club soda is a nice touch.