Peaches are already coming in to the farmer’s markets, a few weeks early. Last Spring I went peach crazy, and this Spring will be no different. I found a recipe called Kentucky Bourbon Peaches on the Allspice Chronicles (Adapted from the Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving.) I changed it up to make it my own and added vanilla beans, and substituted half of the sugar with brown sugar.
I picked up peaches from Lightsey Farms and Caskey Farms for some variation. The Lightsey peaches were smaller, and many were not yet ripe, which I should have tested before I got started. The Caskey Farms peaches were all ripe and larger.
Once the peaches were rinsed, I blanched them in boiling water for about 2 minutes, then removed them with a slotted spoon and placed them into iced water, to prevent cooking.
Once cooled, I removed the skins and the pits, and placed the peaches in a solution of 4 parts water, 1 part lemon juice to preserve their peachy color. I had quite a few peaches, so I was working a batch at a time. For the perfectly ripe peaches that were able to be skinned whole, I cut them into halves or quarters. Once all of the peaches had been processed, I drained them.
I put the sugar mixture on the stove to simmer, 8 cups water, 1 cup organic sugar, 1 cup organic brown sugar, and a spice bag containing cinnamon sticks, cloves, and ginger (candied because it was what I had.) I let that simmer for about 10 minutes while preparing my canning jars. Next, I scraped the vanilla out of 2 vanilla beans.
When the steralized jars were ready, I put the peaches, the vanilla, and the beans into the simmering sugar mixture, and let them all simmer for about a 10 minutes. I pulled out the vanilla beans, and poured a generous 1/2 cup of Kentucky Bourbon, I used Evan Williams, (I would have used Garrison Brothers, but my liquir store was out) into the mix. After letting that simmer for a short bit, I ladled the peaches into pint size jars and sealed. I processed in a water bath per the recipe for 20 minutes, and viola!
I haven’t tried these yet, but the recipients of the two jars I gave away were impressed. One friend served his over vanilla ice cream, with a ginger cookie, and pecans. Sounds about right. I had intended to also make Brandied peaches, but didn’t have enough ripe peaches for both recipes. I’ll be doing that as soon as the rest of mine ripen.