Here in Maryland our peaches are at their peak as August begins and our small household is up to its ears in the delicious, juicy fruit. If your CSA box is full of peaches or you stocked up at your local farm stand, why not try something a little different. These bourbon and rosemary poached peaches take those sweet treats to another level. Perhaps the best part about these poached peaches are their versatility. You can start with the poached peaches served with whipped cream and turn leftovers into homemade peach ice cream (recipe coming soon!). You can even add a couple ounces of the reduced poaching syrup to bourbon and ice for a delicious cocktail.
Before you get too far into the recipe there are a few important things to know about this process. First, start with ripe peaches. If they are overly ripe (read: mushy), then they will need quite a bit less time poaching. I think the perfect poaching peach is the kind you could eat right away but would benefit from one more day on the counter.
You also need to peel the peaches. I went through the process in front of my wife and she was really impressed with how easy it works. If you have experience peeling tomatoes, you’ll be familiar with the process to peel peaches. All you have to do is make very shallow cross cuts on the peaches–opposite side to the stem end–and drop them in simmering water. Let them sit in the water for about 20-30 seconds, remove from the water and place in bowl with ice water. When they are cool to touch–about one minute–you can rub off the skin with your fingers. Simple!
The ratio for bourbon and rosemary is to my taste. I would consider this a pretty moderate flavor, so if you want more of a punch, add more bourbon after the poaching liquid reduces and more rosemary at the beginning of the poaching process.
Finally, the reserved reduced poaching liquid is like candy for adults. Save it! When properly reduced, the liquid should be almost equivalent to a simple syrup so use it to flavor drinks or your whipped cream. Use it as a simple sauce or toss some in your fruit salad. Enjoy it!
This recipe uses eight peaches and halves the peaches at the end. This means that you could easily make a batch for a party of 8-12 and add a halved peach to the top of pound cake or biscuits. The uses are just about endless. So next time you are up to your ears in peaches, like the Peppered Salt home, try these bourbon and rosemary poached peaches and let your imagination turn them into an exquisite dessert
- 8 Peaches (fresh, not canned)
- 8 Cups water
- 2 Cups sugar
- 2 Sprigs rosemary
- ¼ Cup bourbon
- 1 Stick cinnamon (optional)
- Poaching Liquid
- 1 Sprig rosemary
- ¼ Cup bourbon
- Bring a pot of water to a simmer. With a small knife, cut small crosses on the skin of the peaches on the opposite side of the stem. Place the peaches in the simmering water for about 30 seconds and then remove and place in a bowl of ice water. Let stand until you can handle them and remove the skin with your fingers. This is the same process as removing skin from tomatoes.
- Add all ingredients to a large pot. I would not recommend reusing water from the previous step. Bring liquid to a low simmer and add peeled peaches. The mixture needs to slowly simmer but it should not boil too hard. Your goal is a few bubbles climbing to the top every few seconds (like making stock or broth).
- Cook the peaches in the poaching liquid for about 30-45 minutes. The peaches should still be firm but a knife should easily slide in and out of the flesh. Remove the peaches and let cool (I recommend letting them sit at room temperature before adding to the refrigerator).
- Continue to cook the poaching liquid at a low boil, slightly higher than during the poaching steps. The liquid should reduce by at least a half, or until a syrup-like consistency. This step can take about 30-60 minutes.
- Cut the peaches in half when they are cool to the touch. Run a knife inserted to the depth of the pit and cut along the flesh. The peaches should peel away from the pit (if not freestone, it may take a little more effort).
- When reduced, let the syrup cool and then add the remaining bourbon (to taste) and rosemary to the cooled poached peaches. Refrigerate for a few hours, up to a couple days. I like to store the poached peaches in syrup in jars. Serve with whipped cream and garnish with a shot of bourbon and a sprig of rosemary.