Brandied peaches are a terrific way to capture the sunshine-y flavor of farm-fresh peaches. The alcohol and sugar preserve the fruit so you don’t have to can them in a water bath or pressure cooker, just store in the refrigerator or a cool, dark basement.
Brandied peaches take three to four months for the flavors to develop fully, so if you make some now, they’ll be ready in time to brighten the darkest winter days. Fruits in alcohol have long been associated with winter holidays in Europe, first Saturnalia and later Christmas, so they make good gifts.
Make several pint jars to give away and keep at least one for yourself. Brandied peaches are delicious served over pound cake, ice cream or alone in a champagne coupe.
This year’s harvest in Kansas, Missouri and Colorado was more abundant than usual, so peaches are still around at farmers markets and orchards. But only through the end of August, so don’t miss out.
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For the prettiest presentation, buy perfect, unblemished peaches. Or, you can save money and enjoy the same flavor by purchasing a box of “seconds.”
I follow the recipe in “The Joy of Cooking: All About Canning & Preserving” by Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker, a must-have reference if you enjoy canning or want to learn how.
Here is my version of that recipe, which does not include precise measurements because peaches will absorb different amounts of sugar and brandy.
Brandied peaches, adapted from “Joy of Cooking”
Wash one pint jar and lid for each pound of peaches. (Jars do not need to be sterilized because of the alcohol content.)
Set a large pot of water to boil on the stove.
Fill a large bowl with ice water.
Wash the peaches and remove stems and leaves. With a paring knife, cut a small X in the top of each peach.
Drop the peaches into the boiling water for one minute, then lift them with a slotted spoon and place them in the ice water until cool enough to touch.
Remove the skins and cut the fruit into halves or quarters, discarding the stones.
Pack the peaches tightly into jars, up to the first ring on the neck.
Cover the peaches completely with sugar, shaking the jars and tapping them on the counter to help coat the fruit. Put the jars with lids on loosely in the refrigerator or a cool, dark place where you can check on them every day. As the sugar dissolves, continue adding more to keep the fruit completely covered.
When the sugar is completely dissolved (usually about three days), fill the jars to 1/4 inch from the top with brandy. Screw the lids on tightly and wrap the jars individually in brown paper or cloth, or place them all in a brown paper bag. Store in the fridge or a cool, dark place for 3-4 months. The peaches will darken but are still good to eat for up to a year.