This is my second year being a Canbassador & participating in the “Sweet Preservation” canning event, using stone fruits provided by the Washington State Stone Fruit Commission. On their Sweet Preservation website, they provide recipes, labels & even a Preservation 101 page to get people canning. Last year I received some amazingly beautiful Sweet Dream peaches & Honey Royale nectarines from them, and I made vanilla brandied peach jam, peach & pepper salsa, and nectarine basil preserves as well as made a beautiful crostata from the leftover peaches (& I even froze some). And this year, it’s peaches once again! This time, it was gorgeous Sierra Rich peaches.
No kidding- these were 22 lbs. of the most beautiful fresh peaches you’ll ever see.
I knew what I was going to make with them before they even got here. The mint in my garden is going bananas, so I knew I wanted to use that. And as you probably know, I have more bourbon in my house than I have anything else (no kidding)… so the logical train of thought was to go right to mint julep peaches!
I got a bit of inspiration for this from Nigella Lawson, but then again who doesn’t *wink wink, nudge nudge*
And Nigella is right about mint juleps and peaches; both of them evoke a hot, midsummer-y vibe. What better way to compliment peaches than with mint & bourbon, and what better way to celebrate summer than with all three together?
Note: I did NOT remove the skin from my peaches for aesthetic reasons. If the skin bothers you, please remove it. It’s very easy to do so: simply wash peaches, cut an X on the bottoms & then dip ’em in boiling water for 30 seconds. Drop in ice water to loosen skins. Remove skins. Cut in half; remove the pits, and continue canning. Voila!
MINT JULEP PEACHES
Makes about 3 quarts or 6 pints; can be halved or quartered if needed
- 1 lb. fresh, ripe, mature peaches
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 3/4 cups water
- 6 sprigs of fresh sweet/spearmint- not peppermint!
- 3 shots Kentucky bourbon (one shot per jar)
- lemon juice (optional, keeps peach halves from browning while sitting)
- Sterilize your jars and place your lids in hot water. Keep the jars hot.
- Add sugar to water in a large saucepan & bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Keep hot.
- Prep your peaches- if you’re taking the skin off, follow the above directions. Pack your peaches in the hot jars, and add a shot of bourbon & two sprigs of fresh mint to each jar.
- Pour the hot sugar syrup over the peaches, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe lids and rims, add lids, and screw bands on to “fingertip tight.”
- Process in a water bath canner for 25 minutes (pint jars) or 30 minutes (quart jars). Remove from canner & place on towel. Let sit overnight. Any jars that aren’t sealed, place in refrigerator and use immediately. Properly canned jars will last one year.
I used Elijah Craig Kentucky bourbon for a few reasons. One, It’s Kentucky bourbon, which is appropriate for a mint julep recipe. And two, it’s got a pretty cool history.
In approximately 1789, Craig founded a distillery. This last enterprise led to his subsequent dubious reputation as the inventor of bourbon whiskey. Craig has sometimes been claimed to have been the first to age the distillation in charred oak casks, “a process that gives the bourbon its reddish color and unique taste.”
Craig built his distillery in what was then Fayette County. The location later became part of Woodford County in 1789, and then Scott County in 1792. It was never in Bourbon County, as some have claimed. However, both Fayette County and Bourbon County were named in honor of the noted Revolutionary War Gen. Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, of the French nobility and royal House of Bourbon.
American whiskey authority Charles Kendrick Cowdery believes Craig was making exactly the same kind of whiskey as most of his contemporaries and historian Henry Crowgey calls his reputed invention of bourbon simply a “charming legend”. By 1785, when Bourbon County was formed, dozens (if not hundreds) of small farmer-distillers west of the Alleghenies made corn-based whiskies which they called ‘bourbon’, to distinguish them from the rye-based whiskies commonly distilled in the East. No actual historical evidence indicates that Craig’s whiskey was unique in its time, nor that he practiced charring of the aging barrels. The first known publication potentially alluding to Craig as bourbon’s inventor was in 1874 (and includes only a brief entry in a densely packed list without actually mentioning Craig himself, or pointing to any evidence, and without any elaboration as to what distinguished the product as the first bourbon).
You can certainly leave the alcohol out for a plain minty syrup, if you have kids that would be interested in eating these.
Once again, the Washington State Stone Fruit Commission does not disappoint! And thanks so very much also to the growers & packers who sent this fruit to me.
I’m sure you can see from these photos how gorgeous this fruit was.
But wait… there’s more…
Yes. See, I also made some jam. A very simple peach jam, nothing fancy or worth sharing. But when I peeled the peaches I decided I wasn’t finished with those peels. And I put them aside. And then…
Might as well continue with this bourbon theme, eh?
What you do is you save your peach peels. It’s okay if there’s some flesh still attached, don’t worry. Put them in a bowl and let them sit in the fridge until you’re ready to use them (it took me two or three days to get around to them). Weigh them on a kitchen scale, and add the same amount of weight in sugar to the peach peels in a pot on the stove with 1 cup of water. Then add 1 tablespoon lemon juice per cup of peel. Simmer it on the stove, stirring occasionally so that the peels don’t stick. I added a 1/2 cup of water when the previous cup seemed to have evaporated, along with HALF the amount of sugar you added before (or the amount equal to half the weight of the initial peach peels). Then I just let it cook until it was thickened! This could take some time, and you might have to use an immersion blender to break down some of the peels. Mine disintegrated pretty well, but I gave it a zap at the end just to be sure. Of course it still isn’t perfectly smooth but that’s okay. It has the typical consistency of a fruit butter.
Plus it smelled fantastic.
At that point, add anywhere from 2 – 4 tablespoons of bourbon, depending on how adventurous you are/how much fruit peel you’ve used. You can also just skip that part, of course.
At this point you would wipe the rims, add the lids & bands and process in a water bath for 20 minutes per pint jar. And the best part (other than getting the awesome fruit butter out of the deal)? No waste!
If you, too, have been canning up a storm this summer, add the Sweet Preservation “Of Course I Canned!” badge to your blog. Click here to view & save the file, then add it. And it’s not too late to start canning either! There’s tons of beautiful fruit & vegetables just starting to be harvested now.