“Pickled nectarines?” Why yes, of course! The French, who were so kind as to share their exquisitely potent cornichons with the rest of us, have made a delightful habit of pickling all sorts of wonderful things. Fruit trees are abundant in much of France, as you can see from the sampling of roadside photos, below:
Nectarines are plentiful in France… for a very short period of time. Unlike apples, nectarines do not store well. To enjoy nectarines into the autumn season they must be sliced and frozen, canned, or – yes – pickled. Give it a try! This recipe is super easy, has a pleasing sweet and tangy flavor, and makes a fanciful gift. Bon Appetit!
Ingredients (Makes 3 pint jars)
12 ripe nectarines
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
9 whole cloves
Step 1) Peel nectarines. This step is optional, and you may want to skip it if your nectarines are on the crisp side. If your nectarines are very ripe, though, removing the peel will prevent the peel from separating in the canning jars later (not harmful, but looks unsightly). To peel nectarines, simply place each nectarine in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove and immediately place in a bowl of ice water. When cool, lift nectarines from ice water and score the peel with a paring knife. The peel will practically slide right off.
Step 2) Slice nectarines into eight pieces each. Place sliced peaches in a large bowl of cold water. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice. It doesn’t really matter how much water is in the bowl; you’re simply using the bowl of water and lemon juice to keep your nectarine slices from oxidizing, or turning brown.
Step 3) Combine 2 cups vinegar, 1 cup water, and 2 1/2 cups sugar in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure all sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to a low simmer and add nectarines.
Step 4) After 1 minute, remove pot from heat and ladle nectarines and brine into sterilized canning jars. Place 1 cinnamon stick and 3 cloves in each jar. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace. Cover with lids and bands, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Allow to cool, and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. [You could skip this step entirely and just place your nectarines and brine in the refrigerator, where they will stay fresh for 1 month.]