Saturday, May 28, 2011

Spiced Peaches with Vanilla Bean

4 1/2 lbs. freestone peaches (about 14)
4 c. sugar
3 1/2 c. champagne or white wine vinegar
4 cinnamon sticks, about 2 inches each
12 whole allspice berries
8 whole cloves
2 vanilla beans

Score a very small x through the skin on the bottom of each peach. Drop into boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. remove to a colander to drain and cool. Starting at the x, peel the skin away without marring the flesh. Set the peeled peaches aside. Handle gently. Combine the sugar, vinegar, cinnamon sticks, allspice, and cloves in a large pot. Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the pot. Reserve the beans. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Carefully add the peaches and continue to cook on medium heat for 15 minutes, basting with liquid if the peaches are not totally immersed. Turn off the heat and remove the peaches with a slotted spoon to hot sterilized widemouthed quart jars. Pack the fruit in as tight as possible without crushing or mashing. Cut a peach in half, leaving the pit intact in one half, if necessary to fill the jar. Slide 2 cinnamon sticks and 1 vanilla bean into each jar. Put 6 allspice berries and 4 cloves in each jar. Pour boiling syrup over the fruit, filling the jars to within 1/2 inch of the top. Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a damp towel and seal with new lids and metal rings. Process in a hot water bath for 25 minutes. Remove, cool, check seals, and label before storing. Season for 4 weeks before using. The peaches will darken slightly over time.

Yield: 2 quart jars

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