When I was growing up, Del Monte sold glass jars of spiced peaches. They were hard to find and only available around Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mom LOVED them. We, her beloved children, were lucky to get one to split between the two of us. Last summer, when friends brought South Carolina peaches back, I started thinking about making my own.
This summer, I have three big baskets of peaches to consume.
I went surfing through the internets, and found a few recipes that were helpful but none that seemed exactly right. So, I ended up making my own road.
~3/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups apple cider vinegar
~3 cups sugar
12 cups water
1 cup peach syrup
1/4 cup mulling spices
The very first step is preparing your jars. Wash in hot soapy water, rinse and then put jars in water bath and boil them for 20 minutes or so. Wash and rinse lids, put in a small pot, boil for 5 minutes. (I set up a TV tray next to the stove, and covered it with towels. Then I left the jars in the water bath until I was almost ready for them, then pulled them out (empty water back into bath to avoid having to refill bath) and set them right on the tray.)
The first steps - boiling and peeling - are the same as before. I wanted 6 quarts of peaches, so I peeled about 50 peaches. From what I've read, whole peaches are the Southern tradition, but I'm a displaced Yankee so I pitted and sliced mine. Put the lemon juice in a LARGE bowl. As you slice the peaches, drop them into the bowl. Stir occasionally to ensure all peaches are covered in the lemon juice. (If you prefer, you can probably also use that fresh fruit stuff to keep them from discoloring. I just happened to already have lemon juice.)
Add vinegar, sugar, water and syrup to your LARGEST stock pot. Wrap mulling spices in cheesecloth and add to pot. Bring to a boil. Boil approx 5 minutes covered, uncover, boil another 5 or so minutes, add peaches and then simmer until peaches are soft (~20 minutes). Note - I had to remove liquid when I added the peaches to avoid overflow so be careful.
When peaches are about ready, pull jars from the water bath, line them up on your work surface and add 1/4 teaspoon of mulling spices and 1 teaspoon sugar to each jar. Fill jars with peaches, using jar funnel and slotted spoon, then top off with syrup, leaving about an inch of headroom. Wipe off lips and threads of jars, add lids and rims and the process in hot water bath for about 30 minutes.
Yield: 6 quarts.