In a Pickle: Pickled Nectarine Slices
"I believe it's time to bring back pickled fruit."
Somewhere in the last 75 years, American misplaced its pickled fruit tradition. It used to be that no family larder was complete without jars of sweet-tart pickled pears, peaches and cherries. They were a staple, served alongside roasts and with simple meals of bread and cheese.
As the production of food was commercialized, we developed something of condiment monoculture. Ketchup was streamlined to mean a sauce made from tomatoes. Relish could no longer contain a world of garden of vegetables. And the word pickle became synonymous with Kirby cucumbers submerged in a puckery, savory brine.
I believe it's time to bring back pickled fruit. With so many people reacquainting themselves with the combined flavors of fruit and vinegar in the form of drinking vinegars and shrubs, pickled fruit is the natural next step.
For those of you who still aren't sold, imagine how good pickled beets can be scattered atop a salad of tender lettuces. Or how perfect a dollop of chutney is with cheddar cheese. These pickled nectarines can easily stand in either, as well as do so much more.
Before You Get Started
Just like the cucumber dills and red tomatoes, these are pickles that can be made either as refrigerator pickle or one that is processed for shelf stability. The finished slices will be softer if you choose to process them, but the trade-off in refrigerator space will be worth it.
It's best to use slightly underripe fruit to make these pickles. Use something to soft and they'll dissolve into goo in the jars. Not quite what we're going for.
Make sure to work as many air bubbles out of the jars as possible before putting the lids on. It's absolutely necessary if you plan on processing them and a good habit if you're popping the jars into the fridge.
These pickles are good eaten right away, but I like to give them at least 48 hours in the jars before diving in.
About the author: Marisa McClellan is a food writer, canning teacher, and dedicated pickler who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her jams, pickles and preserves (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars.