Pickled Peaches

Pickled Peaches

Making pickled peaches dates back to at least the late 1700s when a recipe for the food was published in the book “The Art of Cookery.” Traditionally, the dish was flavored with various combinations of clove, nutmeg, ginger, mustard seed, peppercorns, and garlic, but over time it has been simplified to a classic mixture of baking spices. While pickled peaches might not be found in many areas of the United States, it’s a classic Southern food that often features clove and cinnamon with the occasional addition of ginger. Savory and sweet, pickled peaches have a warming spice undertone that helps cut the tartness of the vinegar brine. 

The art of pickling dates back, well past the documented recipe for pickled peaches, to sometime around 2400 BCE. Historians believe the practice originated in ancient Mesopotamia. Not much about the pickling process has changed over the years, which is done either as an anaerobic fermentation in a salt-based liquid or by immersing in vinegar. The method for contemporary pickled peaches uses vinegar, and unlike the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia who used clay vessels, we can preserve the pickles longer by canning or keeping in the refrigerator. 

Important Steps to Remove the Risk of Botulism From Canning

Whether you make them with this recipe or buy a jar from an online specialty shop or grocery store, there are plenty of sweet and savory ways to use pickled peaches, from topping ice cream to adorning salads.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups sugar

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar

  • 4 pounds fresh peaches, underripe

  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves

  • 1 1/2 inch sliced fresh ginger

  • 6 stick cinnamon stick, about 2 to 3 inches

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients and wash the peaches.

    Pickled Peaches ingredients

    The Spruce / Linnea Covington

  2. Add the sugar, water, and vinegar to a large pot and heat on medium-high until the sugar is melted. Bring to a boil. While waiting, stick about six cloves into each peach.

    Peaches studded with cloves

    The Spruce / Linnea Covington

  3. Once the liquid is boiling, place the peaches in the pot and cook for 20 minutes, turning often.

    Peaches in the vinegar bath in a pot

    The Spruce / Linnea Covington

  4. Let the peaches and syrup cool for about 5 minutes. Next, spoon the whole peaches into jars. Divide up the cinnamon and ginger between the chosen jars.

    Cooked peach cooling in a bowl

    The Spruce / Linnea Covington

  5. Pour syrup over the jarred peaches. Either seal the jars through basic canning practices or cool and seal the jars and place them in the fridge, where they will last for at least six months.

    For canning, it’s best to wipe the rims of the jars first with a clean, dry cloth and then twist on the ring over the seal. Process the pickled peaches in a hot water bath for about 10 minutes to properly seal. Canned, they can last a few years if stored in a cool, dry place.

    Once jarred, the peaches are ready to eat within 24 hours, though longer pickling will deepen the flavors until the whole fruit is like eating a warming-spiced slice of Christmas.

    Pickled Peach in a bowl next to a jar

    The Spruce / Linnea Covington

How to Use Pickled Peaches

Pickled peaches taste like Christmas and summer had a love child. A sweet, tart and warming spice-laced baby, that goes great on so many dishes.

  • Spoon the sugary syrup over vanilla ice cream, adding slices of the pickled peach to the bowl. It’s a tart, sweet, and warming flavor that goes well with the cool creaminess of ice cream.
  • Pair slices of pickled peaches with fresh ricotta and arugula in a salad or on top of a baguette.
  • Adorn garlic and goat cheese or prosciutto pizza with them.
  • Serve pickled peaches chopped up in a relish alongside ham or another rich meat.
  • Pickled peaches also pair well with many light cheeses and can be served on a charcuterie board.
  • Instead of the usual cucumber pickle, try eating them on the side along with a meaty sandwich or sausage.
  • You can also eat pickled peaches solo as a dessert or sweet-tart snack, after removing the pit of course 
  • Add thin slices of pickled peaches to the top of a cheesecake.

Recipe Variations

Add other flavors to this pickled peach to go with the cinnamon and ginger, or take out those two ingredients all together. It’s easy to mix and match depending on what type of pickled peach is desired. If using multiple jars, try different combinations in each one. These flavor combinations produce nice pickled peaches:

  • Cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, a splash of rose water
  • Jalapeño, lemon zest, ginger
  • Grated nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice berries
  • Dried whole chilies, cinnamon

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