Divide the star anise and orange zest between 2 pint-size canning jars. Carefully fill the jars with the nectarines (you don't want to bruise the fruit).
In a small saucepan, heat the white vinegar, sugar, crushed red pepper, salt and 1 1/2 cups water over high, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Let cool completely.
Pour the brine over the nectarines, making sure the fruit is completely submerged. Screw on the lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Refrigerate at least 3 days before eating. (The pickles are best eaten within 10 days.)