by Jill Lightner
This recipe works equally well with nectarines. In both cases, use fully ripe fruit in good condition–cut away any bruises or soft spots before canning. The spice mix can be adjusted to taste; more cloves will make the fruit spicier, while cinnamon gives a sweeter flavor. Because this is hot pack method, it’s worth doing many jars at once, but since everyone’s idea of “many” is a little different, the proportions here are for three quarts. With this kind of canning, it helps to have extra hands in the kitchen, but it’s safest to remove kids and dogs to another room–canning fruit is hot, sticky work.
You’ll need two large stockpots or a stockpot and canner for this recipe.
Makes: 3 quart jars
6 lbs perfectly ripe fresh peaches or nectarines
7 cups white sugar
2 3/4 cups apple cider vinegar
1 3/4 cups water
3 teaspoons whole cloves
5 four-inch long cinnamon sticks
1 tsp allspice berries
Sterilize jars and keep warm while cooking peaches.
Fill one large stockpot or a canner with several quarts of water and gradually heat to boiling while completing the recipe. Time this process according to your own cooking pace and your stove’s abilities. You want the water in this pot to be boiling when you’ve finished sealing the jars, which will take at least 20 minutes.
If using nectarines, remove pits and cut into slices about one inch thick. If using peaches, peel with serrated peeler or blanch and remove skins, then pit and slice.
Place cloves, cinnamon sticks and allspice berries into a double layer of cheesecloth, wrap tightly, and tie bundle with kitchen string. Combine sugar, water and vinegar in a large stockpot over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Lower heat to medium, add bundle of spices, and lightly boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add fruit, being careful not to splatter yourself with hot syrup. Bring to a boil, and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until fruit is quite soft but isn’t falling apart. (This timing can vary somewhat depending on variety of peach or nectarine used. Begin checking softness of fruit after five minutes.)
Using a long-handled ladle, fill the warm, sterile jars to within one-half inch of the top. Wipe top of jar clean of any spills, dip jar lid into hot water, and fasten with ring. Using tongs, place each filled jar into water, making sure the entire jar is under water (you may need to add or subtract from the water in the pot to accommodate all the jars). Boil for 10 minutes.
Remove jars from water and let cool overnight. It’s commonly recommended to not eat any jars that haven’t firmly sealed–if the lid are still flexible when you touch them, they didn’t seal.