Meditations

Canned Bourboned Peaches Recipe


Bourboned peaches in jars ready for syrup and bourbon.

Bourboned peaches in jars ready for syrup and bourbon.

Here’s a real simple recipe to save some of the incredible summer peaches for winter days, twisted with a notch of bourbon to add flavour.

This was my first time canning peaches and it was pretty easy to do. So get over any fears you might have about preserves and start learning by doing.

I canned 20 pounds of peaches. Those 20 pounds yielded 10 jars. It took me about 3 hours.

It turns out canning peaches is a time-consuming process. So I’d advise that when you do it, you do a lot.

Supplies

Start with preparing your supplies to make the process smooth and easy.

Make sure you have the canning supplies: good jars with smooth rims, new lids, unwarped rings and a big canning pot with a rack for the jars.

I used wide-mouth mason jars because that’s what I’d inherited from friends. New lids were harder to find for the wide-mouth size but that larger opening made filling and handling the jars much easier. Wide-mouth size: recommended.

I used new lids because that’s what my research told me I should do. I imagine you could reuse lids, but everyone I read recommended against it.

I did reuse the threaded rings to hold the lids. Some of mine even had a touch of rust to them, which didn’t bother me because they don’t touch the interior of the jars or lids.

Canning pot and rack.

Canning pot and rack.

My canning pot I also inherited from friends with a rack that fits inside and holds 6 jars at once. You can buy similar pots and racks at hardware supply shops like Canadian Tire and Home Hardware.

Mine looks just like this one.

You’ll also need 2 big pots: 1 for scalding the jars, lids and rings, 1 for simmering the peaches and syrup. You’ll need tongs to handle the hot gear. You’ll need a slotted spoon and a big spoon. You’ll need a big bowl to hold the peaches.

Get your gear together and start the prep.

Ingredients

This may be the simplest ingredients list ever.

4 ingredients:

  • 20 lbs. — Peaches
  • 3 cups — Sugar
  • 10 cups (1L) — Water
  • 1 cup (250ml) — Bourbon
Crate of freestone peaches ready to become bourboned peaches.

Crate of freestone peaches ready to become bourboned peaches.

I’ll admit, those amounts are rough guesses, not exact measures. Use your discretion as to how thick you want your syrup and how boozy you want your peaches.

And like all beautiful and simple things, the elegance belies quality. That’s a fancy pants way of saying: use good ingredients. You’ll taste each ingredient, so take care with each ingredient.

I bought my peaches from Hilltop Farms at the Trout Lake farmers’ market. They sell crates of about 20 pounds for $30, or $25 for canning peaches that require a little trimming and care. I bought the full price, freestone beauties.

Woodford Reserve bourbon for bourboned peaches recipe.

Woodford Reserve bourbon for bourboned peaches recipe.

I used Woodford Reserve bourbon because that’s what I had in the liquor cabinet. The bourbon flavour looms large in this recipe, so use a bourbon you like.

Instructions

Put a big pot on the stove. Add the water. Add the sugar. Stir and heat on medium heat. Dissolve the sugar into the water to make a syrup. Bring to a solid simmer and let reduce.

Put your second big pot on the stove. Fill with water and turn to high heat to boil. You’re going to scald your jars, lids and rings in this water. As you’re waiting, prepare your peaches.

Add all your peaches to the sink. Fill the sink with lukewarm water. Rub each peach so any fuzz or grit is removed.

Cut the peaches into halves, trim of any inedible bits and remove the pits. Cut the peaches into slices and place in a big bowl. Each peach yields 8 to 10 slices.

When you’ve sliced up about half the peaches, place them in the simmering syrup to soften. Stir them up well to mix the syrup and peaches together.

By now your second pot of water on the stove ought to be boiling. Using your tongs, place the jars into the boiling water for about a minute. Remove them and place them on the counter beside your simmering peaches in syrup.

You’ll probably only be able to put 2 jars into the boiling water at once, so work through about half your jars, placing each one on the counter in turn.

Once you’ve got half your jars scalded, use your slotted spoon to add peaches to them. I found it easiest to scoop some peaches into the spoon, shake it a little to get the syrup to drain out the slots, then slide the peaches into the jars.

Here’s where you’ll be thankful for those wide-mouth mason jars.

Pluck all the peaches from the syrup and slide them into your scalded jars. Bring your scalding pot back to a boil while you work through the second half of your peaches.

Again, cut the peaches into slices and put them in the bowl. Add them to the syrup. Scald your jars. Scoop the peaches into the jars. Turn off the heat to your syrup pot.

Once all your peaches are into the jars, take your spoon and top the jars with syrup. Leave 1/2″ to 3/4″ of room between the level of the syrup and the rim of the jar. In the canning world, they call this ‘head space.’

Use a butter knife to release any trapped bubbles. Tap them on the counter to get the peaches settled in the jars.

Add a splash of bourbon to the top of each jar. You’re really just looking for a splash here, about 1/2 a shot.

You’re now done with the syrup. It should be rich and orange now, full of sugars and peach flavour. Don’t throw it out! Instead, put in a jar and cool in the fridge. Set the syrup aside for another day when you’ll brew up a pitcher of peach iced tea and make people very happy.

But that’s another day. Your bourboned peaches need attention now and you’re ready to seal those beauties.

With your tongs, place your lids and rings in the boiling water of the scalding pot. Remove them and let them cool on the countertop. Fit the lids onto the jars and the rings over them. Tighten finger tight.

Get your canning pot full of water. Add in the rack. Place on the stove, cover with the lid and apply the high heat. There’s a ton of water to bring to a boil so it may take awhile.

Once you’ve got the water in the canning pot boiling, use your tongs and slide your jars of peaches into the slots in the rack. Replace the lid to bring the water back to a boil. Let boil for 10 minutes. Use your tongs to remove the jars. Place the hot jars on a rack to cool.

Bring the water back to a boil and add the remaining jars. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool.

You’ll soon start to hear the lids of the jars pop. This is the sound of them sealing.

Once they’re cool enough to touch, check the rings to make sure they don’t need to be tightened.

And that’s it. You’re done.

Store the canned bourboned peaches in a cool dark place for up to a year. Serve on their own, over ice cream or over panne cotta. Mix them into a pie and it will change someone’s life.

Use responsibly, share with care and enjoy!

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