Leena Cooks n Cans: Spicy Bourbon White Peach Pickles

By on Sep 13, 2010 in Canning, Fruit, Leena Cooks, Pickles | 12 comments

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My Spicy Bourbon White Peach Pickles for the September Tigress Can Jam!

Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge

For this month’s can jam topic, stone fruit, I decided to get a little crazy. The recipe I was looking for, essentially a drunken stone fruit pickle, was difficult to come by. But here’s the thing–I sort of got addicted to eating peaches and bourbon together this summer, in crisps, in pies, and in cobblers…oh the cobblers. I got addicted to the flavor combo in a crack addict sort of way, and I can’t let it go, not even for this challenge. The pairing is so damn tasty, I just can’t leave my precious bourbon out.

I was totally planning on adding some bourbon to my white peach butter, which I also canned, but I forgot to add it until the jars were in the canner, and then sheer laziness kicked in. There was no way I was going to unearth the molten hot cans, dump their contents back into a  pot, add bourbon, adjust flavor and consistency, all while cleaning and re-sterilizing the cans so I could re-can the stuff. HELL NO.

More after the jump.

Locally grown white peaches, sliced and ready to be drunk and pickled.

And I was sort of already hooked on the idea of doing a peach pickle, so combine that with the crack-like affects eating peach and bourbon together has on me, and it’s pretty obvious– I HAD to include bourbon. I did some research, and from what I could tell, as long as you do not adjust the amount of liquid, sugar or vinegar in a pickle recipe, substituting liquids shouldn’t be a problem. If someone knows differently, please let me know. The recipe I used called for water, which I substituted with bourbon.

The spices I used for my pickled peaches

I combined this recipe with the spices from another recipe I found online, creating a spicy, sweet bourbon pickled peach recipe. The pickling syrup tasted awesome, so I can’t wait to try the actual pickle in a month. And just in case the experiment doesn’t work, I made a mere three jars.

Now, getting your fruit pickles drunk is no easy task, and I could not include all my tips in the recipe, so I’m included a few extra tips right here. You can not just dump the bourbon on the fruit and expect it to get drunk. Hell no. Especially if it’s fancy fruit. I suggest you start by talking nicely to your fruit, make friends with it. Maybe put on some smooth jazz to ease any friction, and hey, a nice back rub never hurts. Do what you can to relax the fruit before you drown it in hard liquor and have your way with it.

The pickled peaches before canning, all jazzed up, rubbed down and more than a bit tipsy.

It’s what a classy canner would do.

My finished spicy bourbon pickled peaches!

So here’s a question for all you fellow canners out there…noticed the space at the bottom of my jars? No matter how much I pack the fruit in, be it peaches or cherries, after the fruit pickles are processed, there is always a gap at the bottom of my jars because the fruit softens, and it drives me crazy. Does anyone know how to prevent that?

And here’s a peep at my white peach butter too—

My kick-ass homemade peach butter.

Recipe: Leena’s Spicy Bourbon Peach Pickles

Summary: Inspired by recipes from Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and a Better Homes and Garden refrigerator pickle.


  • 2 pounds of peaches, peeled, halved and sliced
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • small piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard seed
  • 6 cloves


  1. Place the vinegar, bourbon, water and sugar in a pot over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  2. Add spices, lower heat, cover pot and boil gently for 5-7 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and place one in each clean, hot sterilized jar.
  3. Pack the sliced peaches into the jars as tightly as possible. Cover with pickling syrup, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar. Process 15 minutes for half pint jars. Makes 2-3 half pint jars.

Microformatting by hRecipe.


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  1. Christina

    13 Sep ’10

    Post a Reply

    I've frequently tried to keep my beets/tomatoes/peaches/cherries/etc… from floating and nothing works. My pickled okra didn't float because the jar so packed that nothing could move. As far as I can tell, you either need to pack tighter (which seems to be well nigh impossible), have a heavier syrup (more sugar… not such a great option) or have floating pickles.

  2. Fabulous! Would you be a dear and post this to Punk Domestics? (P.S. I still haven't opened those spiced cherries yet … but I have a duck in the freezer just begging for them.)

  3. Adrienne

    13 Sep ’10

    Post a Reply

    If you find a solution to the floaters…I'm dying to know! I always have that problem. 🙁 You'd probably really have to abuse the fruit and really shove it in tightly so it bruises (seriously, I'm talking about fruit…get your mind out of the gutter). I'd rather having floating fruit than bruised fruit.

    I saw the sticker on your peaches. I take it you bought them at a store? I haven't seen white peaches at our local farmer's market. I might have to make a trip to good ol' Whole Foods. Your white peach butter and drunken peaches are on my to do list!

  4. Adrienne

    13 Sep ’10

    Post a Reply

    Don't wait for the duck! Just eat them out of the jar! 🙂

    Is it weird that a neighbor mentioned duck hunting this weekend and I thought of Leena's cherries?

  5. Adrienne

    13 Sep ’10

    Post a Reply

    EEeek! Wait! You don't have a post for the white peach butter? What am I supposed to do? Just use the recipe I have for regular peach butter? HELP!

  6. Leena

    13 Sep ’10

    Post a Reply

    Hi Christina~Thanks for the info. I've read the trick about heavier syrup, but I hate heavy syrup. Sometimes I can really squish fruit in there, like with my cherries, but peaches are so delicate as is, that is difficult to do.

    Hi Punk Domestics~I have finally finished my posts for the month of September, so I will try to this week!

    Hi Gloria! Thanks–let me know what you think. Hopefully, these will taste good.

    Hi Adrienne~So the peaches I bought at a local produce stand in Oakland, and they are locally grown. But you can use this same recipe with yellow peaches, if that is what is around you. For the white peach butter, I used a basic peach butter recipe from Small Batch Preserving and substituted white peaches. I did find it a bit sweet, so I added a bit more lemon juice to balance out the flavor before canning, but no fancy recipe tricks other than that.

  7. kaela

    13 Sep ’10

    Post a Reply

    I have read that you can prevent the 'floaters' by simmering the fruit a bit first; break it down just a wee bit and get it to release some juice, then pack it hot and pour brine over it. Not sure what that would do to the crispness of the pickle though; although presumably they get 'cooked' in the water bath.

  8. Vera

    28 Dec ’10

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    Leena, after reading this post over the summer, I was inspired. bought up a mess of fresh peaches at the farmer’s market and went to town. i made a few of the spicy pickled (havent popped any open yet), but i was moreso inspired by the bourbon. so i packed about 4 jars of peach slices in just bourbon with a cinnamon stick. result?

    Thanksgiving Bourbon Peach Bread Pudding. with buttery bourbon peach sauce.


    Thanks for the inspire.

  9. E2r4th

    15 Jul ’11

    Post a Reply

    Does anyone have any serving suggestions for this delicious recipe? We are making them now…but would love some ideas!

  10. r unrein

    2 Jul ’15

    Post a Reply

    I know this is an old post, but raw packed/cold packed vegies or fruits will float every time.
    Just put fruit in warm syrup long enough to get hot, not cooked, and put in jars, then pour your hot syrup over them in the jars, and seal. The floating should either subside, or stop altogether. Good Luck.

    • Leena

      2 Jul ’15

      Ooo, thanks for the tip!!

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