Beloved summer rituals: waking up early to drink coffee in the backyard before the heat sets in, taking weekend jaunts to lakes, rivers, and oceans, and treating myself to the juiciest, sweetest peach every morning.
Eaten over the kitchen sink. No plate necessary.
It’s pretty much impossible to one-up the perfection of a fresh peach. And I’m not going to even attempt to persuade you that a pickled peach could beat one plucked straight from the tree for simplicity and unadulterated peach flavor.
But when you’re awash in the fuzzy fruits all summer, why not play around?
Pickling peaches gives near-instant gratification—unlike many refrigerator pickle recipes, these are good to go as soon as they’re cool enough to handle and eat. It’s surprising how a quick dunk in the aromatic liquid can permeate the peaches so spectacularly.
This method can also salvage a less-than-perfect specimen, though a harder, not-so-ripe peach still won’t be as juicy and tender when pickled as a peach at its pinnacle will be.
If you don’t have all the spices called for in the following recipe in your pantry, I implore you to take the time to find them, because their warm flavors really come through in the fruit after poaching.
The contrast between the peach’s sunny sweetness and the tart wine-tinged brine is a beautiful, and unexpected, way to savor the fruits of summer.
How to use your pickled peaches? Oh, I can think of a few ways to serve them.
Ways to Use Pickled Peaches
- with a scoop of lemon ice cream
- pureed and doused with Champagne for a tart take on the Bellini, or just sliced and dropped into a sweeter Riesling or Chenin Blanc
- chopped as a salsa atop a pork chop or roasted salmon fillet
- drizzled with honey or maple syrup over yogurt, cottage cheese, or ricotta
- sliced as accompaniment to charcuterie and cheese
- tossed in the usual feta-watermelon salad, or with greens, walnuts, and brie
Or do as I’ve done in the photo above and serve on sweet whole wheat crackers with a smear of goat cheese.
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup red wine (no need to get fancy here; just use a bottle you already have open or were planning to drink with dinner anyway)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 8 whole cloves
- 4 allspice berries
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 6 medium peaches, peeled and halved
- Combine all ingredients except the peaches in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot, cover, and bring to a boil.
- Remove the lid and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the peaches, making sure they are covered by the liquid. (You might have to flip them halfway through.)
- Cook until tender, about 5 minutes more, checking with a paring knife to make sure they are soft the whole way through.
- Remove the peaches with a spoon or ladle and fill a two-quart canning jar or other large heat-proof jar that seals well. (You won't be water-bathing them, so it's ok if it's not a real canning jar.)
- Let the liquid cool slightly and then ladle over the peaches until the jar is full.
- Close, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
- The peaches will keep for a week or two in the fridge but will eventually start to look feathery and disintegrate, so eat up!
adapted from Chez Panisse Fruit
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 107Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 10mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 3gSugar: 19gProtein: 1g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.
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