I bought some peaches at the farmer's market on Saturday, and yesterday they were ripe enough to make some preserves. I used a recipe from the July 2001 Gourmet, and the recipe was called Nectarine Preserves with Basil. But I ended up altering it a bit, as usual. (This recipe can be found at the epicurious website that Gourmet shares with Bon Appetit.)
The recipe said to make a syrup with basil leaves,lemon juice, sugar and a little water, and you boil this syrup for 25 minutes. Then you scoop out the crunchy basil leaves. I had to go to town after making the syrup, and when I came back, it had solidified into a big block of hard candy! I managed to melt it, though.
You simmer the peaches in this syrup for five minutes, scoop out the peaches, boil the syrup a bit more, and add lower-sugar powdered pectin, and boil 1 minute. Then you put the peaches in the jars and pour the syrup over them.
The problem was, I had sterilized seven jars, and the peaches only filled four of them about half way. So I simmered some blueberries in the syrup for a few minutes and then topped up the jars with them. Then I poured the syrup over them. I think it looks very pretty.
Yesterday I also received in the mail a book I had ordered: Complete Book of Home Preserving, published by the Ball jar company. It is very complete, in that it is over 400 pages long, and all about putting things in Ball jars. (There is nothing about freezing in it; for that you need the Ball Blue Book, available at Walmart.)
I found an intriguing recipe in this book for peaches pickled with dill and garlic. When I was a child we had pickled peaches at Thanksgiving and Christmas, made by my grandmother, but they were sweet and spicy, with cloves in them. I loved them. But I want to make these dilly pickled peaches because it calls for dill flowers, which I have.
The recipe calls for peeled peaches. To peel peaches, you place them in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then dip in cold water. The peels will slip off easily. But you probably knew that already.
Mary Coleman Palmer, who has a great food blog called Feeding Groom, asked for this recipe, so here it is.
Dilly Peach Pickles
Makes 5 pint jars
1 cup sugar
2 cups white vinegar
2 T pickling or canning salt
16 cups halved pitted peeled peaches, treated to prevent browning, and drained
(You'll need to buy or pick about 8 lbs of peaches)
5 cloves garlic
5 heads fresh dill
1. Prepare canner, jars, and lids. (See Ball Blue Book if you don't know how to do this.)
2. Combine sugar, vinegar, and salt. Boil over medium high stirring constantly. Add peach halves and return to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 3-5 minutes, until heated through. Remove from heat.
3. Place 1 clove garlic and 1 head dill in each hot jar. Pack peach halves, cavity side down, into hot jars to within 1/2 inch of top of jar. Ladle hot syrup into jar to cover peaches, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
4. Place jars in canner, ensuring that they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process 20 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait five minutes, remove jars, cool and store.