It’s a little late in the season to can peaches but we were looking through some photos of cooking experiences this summer and came across some inviting shots of peaches being pickled and canned. Once upon a time (and perhaps still in Amish country), pickled peaches were always on the farm dinner table. My mom and aunts made them by the bushels and in younger days I did too. Now, I just make a few jars but I still follow my aunt’s advice to use a disposable aluminum roasting pan and cook them in the oven. This is because the high sugar content always caused scorching when you cooked them in a large pot on top of the stove. When disposable pans became available my aunt quickly adapted this smart new method – cleaning up after canning is chore enough without having to spend hours (or sometimes days) trying to clean the burned bottom of the cooking pot.
The following recipe should yield about 8 quarts.
9 pounds fresh ripe but firm peaches, peeled
3 to 4 whole cloves per peach, optional
5 pounds sugar
2 cups cider vinegar
3 cinnamon sticks, broken into smaller pieces
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
If using, stick the cloves into each peach.
Place the peaches in a large disposable aluminum roasting pan.
Combine the sugar, vinegar, cinnamon sticks, and allspice in a mixing bowl, stirring to dissolve some of the sugar. If you have chosen to not stick the cloves into the peaches, you might want to add a few whole cloves to this mix. Pour the mixture over the peaches, tossing to mix well.
Cover the entire pan with aluminum foil and place in the preheated oven. Cook without disturbing for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, uncovered, and carefully mix so that all of the peaches are coated with syrup. Recover and return to the oven for an additional hour or until well-flavored and softened.
Turn off the oven and allow the peaches to cool in the oven.
When cool, pack into hot, sterilized jars, cap, and refrigerate until ready to use. If canning, place the jars in a boiling water bath and process for 10 minutes. When canned, the peaches can be stored in a cool spot for up to a year. Refrigerated they will keep for a few weeks.