Pickled Nectarines

September 5, 2014 | By | Reply More

pickled nectarines

In life, things you’ve not yet discovered lie patiently in wait for just the right moment to suddenly start nudging you from all directions, begging for attention. That’s exactly what happened to me with pickled fruit. Pickled fruit is something that didn’t occur to me until this summer. Then suddenly, I started seeing recipes for pickled strawberries, pickled watermelon, and pickled peaches.

My first bite of a pickled peach was the pleasant kick in the pants that convinced me to seek out a home-canned substitute. My day job takes me into Long Island regularly and the sleepy north shore town I stay in has a secret: the Mirabelle Tavern. Part of a small, very historic inn on the water’s edge, the tavern is a dimly-lit and come-as-you-are restaurant that’s run by an accomplished French chef named Guy Reuge. His kitchen turns out the best locally-sourced and freshly prepared food for miles around and the ever-changing menu keeps me in suspense every time I belly up to the bar for dinner.

Recently, a dish on the seasonal menu featured seared sea scallops accompanied by an heirloom tomato panzanella, basil vinaigrette and pickled peaches. When I tasted those peaches, I knew they had to be mine. I asked – begged really – the bartender to find out if Chef Guy would give me the recipe for them. And, he did give me the recipe. Sort of. What I got back was a sheepish grin from the bartender and a cocktail napkin with ingredients scrawled on it with no measurements or instructions whatsoever.

In a matter of days, I lost the napkin in the black hole that is my purse. I only remembered a few of the ingredients but I  remembered just about everything about how they tasted. They were just a little sweet with a cinnamon-y, star anise spice that just made them sing. Once again, my new favorite canning book, Preserving by the Pint by Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars fame, came to my rescue. This recipe for pickled nectarines uses slightly under-ripe fruit and has the same flavors that wowed me at the Tavern. The best part? It is clearly written with measurements and instructions!

Pickled nectarines are nice with cheese, maybe even on a grilled cheese sandwich or as an energetic addition to a delicate salad.

Note: Once I began packing the nectarine slices into my jars, I realized that for me, the yield of the original recipe (4 half-pint jars) was off. I quickly prepared two more jars and lids on the fly, added the star anise, bay leaf half, cinnamon stick and peppercorns to the extra jars. The amount of brine I had was sufficient to cover the fruit in the six jars. If I were you, I’d prepare a few extra jars and lids for canning when you start this recipe.

Ingredients (Makes 4 half-pint jars)

1 dry quart of slightly under-ripe nectarines (about 2 pounds)

1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar

3/4 cup granulated cane sugar

2 tsp. fine sea salt

4 whole star anise

2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

2 bay leaves, broken in half

1 tsp. black peppercorns, divided

Step one: 

Prepare 4 half-pint jars (or more) and lids for water bath canning and keep lids at a simmer while you prepare the pickled nectarines.

Wash the nectarines and halve and pit each. Cut each half into 6-8 wedges. Divide the stick cinnamon, star anise, bay leaf and peppercorns evenly among your jars.

In a large pan, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the nectarine slices and stir to coat fruit with the brine. Once the brine has returned to boiling, off the heat and get ready to pack the jars.

Step two:

pickled nectarinesPack the nectarine slices snugly and vertically into your jars. Use a wooden chopstick or spoon handle to rearrange the slices and settle them in. Ladle the hot brine carefully into your jars leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Gently tap the jars and use your chopstick to dislodge any trapped air bubbles.

Wipe the jar rims clean with a damp paper towel. Secure the lids and bands on the jars. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes and remove to a clean towel on the countertop. As the jars cool, listen for the “ping of success” indicating the jar has sealed. Check the seals the next day, label and store. You should let the pickled nectarines sit in their brine for at least 2 days before enjoying.

 

 

 

 

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Category: Appetizers, Food, General, Recipes, Summer

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