This is what I did with the white peaches I didn’t eat fresh, turn into chutney, or freeze. SO much better than the peaches in syrup you buy at the grocery store. And I had leftover syrup, which is amazing on pancakes, especially if you reduce it a little and gets really thick. I actually preferred it to maple syrup(!) but don’t tell Quebecers or they’ll kick me out of the province. I can’t wait to open a jar of these on Saturday and pour them on ice cream…mmm…
Ingredients (makes 4 litres or 8 500mL mason jars):
9 lbs peaches (you need to make a big batch to make this worthwhile)
2 – 2 1/2 cups sugar (your choice. It won’t affect the safety)
4 cups water
1/4 cup dessert wine of choice (I happened to have a bunch of sweet and fruity Mistral from the Cep d’Argent Winery in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Rum would be standard here, too, or amaretto, frangelico, peach schnapps or brandy)
4 sterilized 1L (quart) jars, or 8 500mL (pint) jars
If you want your peaches to stay bright and beautiful combine 1/4 cup lemon juice with 4 cups of water and plunk the peeled and sliced peaches into them until they’re ready to all go in the hot syrup.
First remove the peach skins by quickly blanching them in a big pot of hot water: When the pot comes to a boil add the peaches in batches for 1 minute (until the skins break) and then remove them with a slotted spoon to a big bowl of cold water (preferably with ice added to shock the peaches and completely stop the cooking process).
After the peaches are blanched start peeling off their skins. They should come off easily. If they don’t add them back to the boiling water. Good thing you used a slotted spoon to remove them and didn’t just drain the boiling water like pasta…right?
Slice the peaches in halves or quarters and remove the pits. Place the peaches in the lemon juice/water mixture to keep the colour bright, or just work fast…really fast.
Bring the sugar and water to a boil, stir to dissolve the sugar, and drain the peaches before adding to the boiling syrup. Have the sterilized jars ready to go (still hot) and when the peaches come to a boil turn off the heat. This keeps them firm in the jars (putting them in un-cooked will soften them, but so will over-boiling them).
Place the peach slices in the jars (preferably cut-side down if you’re good at that sort of thing – tongs, and no hands touching rims – and then divide the syrup evenly between the jars to just below 1/2″ from the rim. Top with the dessert wine (also divided evenly between the jars – 1 tbsp per litre or 1/2 tbsp per 500mL jar) and top up with syrup if you need to reach 1/2″ from the rim. Use a long wooden chopstick or other non-metal instrument to remove air bubbles from under the peaches, then wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp paper towel, top with the softened lids, and top with metal screw bands. Process in a hot water canner for 25 minutes. Don’t let the peaches cool before adding them to the canner.
The trick is to have everything sterilized and hot and the lids softened and ready to go, so that once the peaches come to a boil it’s a whirlwind of activity. Step after step of canning technique.