Preserving, Recipes

Putting Up Vanilla Bourbon Peaches

Vanilla Bourbon Peaches (2)
Breakfast of champions — Vanilla bourbon peaches over plain yogurt

I haven’t put up whole (well, quarter) peaches in some time. I started canning three years ago and was perhaps a bit overambitious. I put up salsa, dilly beans and jams with ease. How much different could whole fruit be? I was house sitting for my mom for a few weeks and toted my trusty canning pot along with me for the ride. Her kitchen is about 3 times the size of mine with a gorgeous stainless stove and ample marble counter tops. How could I not want to spend every free moment cooking there?

I came home with pounds and pounds of peaches from their local farm, ready to can. Though I wasn’t prepared for the fickleness of peaches. Not too hard, not too soft they had to be just right, blanched for the perfect seconds of time then canned with care. I had a few instances of jars not sealing but eventually canned 5-6 pints of fruit. Though when I later went to enjoy them I found the texture of the peaches reduced to mush, and the flavor far too sugary. After all the stress, I ended up with sub par fruit that got carelessly thrown into a cobbler. I’d almost rather go without peaches than suffer through to make something so flavorless. I was off peaches for good, or so I thought. It was my friend’s perfectly canned bourbon peaches that forced me to go another round with the fickle stone fruit.

I’m not one to pass up a boozy concoction of anything. Her peaches were plump, firm and the best topping for vanilla ice cream I could possibly imagine. When I asked for the recipe I got a jumbled answer with inexact measurements. Finally she mentioned Food in Jars. A-ha! Something I could work with! I kept pretty close to the recipe, making sure to add a whole vanilla bean to each jar to assure a potent vanilla flavor. I did struggle a bit with the peeling and cutting, and went with quarters instead of halves. A much more enjoyable portion size anyway. The bourbon stays quite pronounced as it is added at the end, to top off the basic simple syrup. Though not exactly child friendly, I still overlooked my no alcohol before noon rule when adding them to my morning yogurt. Delicious!

Vanilla Bourbon Peaches (1)

Vanilla Bourbon Peaches (Adapted from Food in Jars) Makes 4 pints

  • 6 pounds peaches
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 c bourbon, divided
  • 4 vanilla beans, split

Blanch and peel your peaches by bringing a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil, enough water to fully submerge your peaches. Fill a large bowl with at least 4 inches of ice water. Add the lemon juice and stir. This mixture will not only stop your peaches from cooking once boiled, but the lemon juice will prevent browning. Using a sharp paring knife, score peaches on the bottom with an X. Working in batches boil your peaches for 60 seconds to help loosen the skin, then plunge in ice bath for several minutes. Once the peaches are cool enough to handle, peel, pit and quarter them.

Combine sugar with 3 cups of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure sugar dissolves. While syrup heats, add 1 split vanilla bean to each sterile, hot pint jar. Pack in peaches, cut-side down. They should be tightly packed, but be sure not to damage them.

Ladle hot syrup over peaches, leaving 1 1/2-inch headspace. Add 1/4 cup bourbon to each jar and top off with additional syrup if necessary so there is 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rims, center lids and screw on bands until finger tight. Process in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes.

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10 thoughts on “Putting Up Vanilla Bourbon Peaches”

  1. Melissa, this sounds magnificent! I have been feasting on Trader Joe’s really nice peaches and had been thinking of preserving it in some way or another so would like to follow your recipe.

    But questions, do you think they will stay firm? If so, is the alcohol responsible for preventing texture going mushy?

    1. The firmness is really dependent on how firm your peaches are to begin with and exact processing time. It’s the simple syrup that preserves them, the alcohol is just a bonus. You want to pick ripe peaches that are still a little firm but easy to peel when blanched. That’s been my biggest challenge, to find that perfect mix. Then when you process them, you’re also cooking the fruit a bit, so you want to make sure to do it enough just so they seal (25 minutes), any longer would cause them to get eve softer. Ideally they should be the same texture you’d get from the supermarket stuff, just less sugar and no whatever additives they use.

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