The cheerful sight of brimming baskets of fruit at farmers’ markets is almost intoxicating for me. While I adore sinking my teeth into fresh, juicy plums, cherries, peaches and more, I also love to preserve them in many forms so I can enjoy their gorgeous flavour while I wait for next summer’s bounty to hit the stands. I grew up making jam, pickles and relishes of all sorts with my Mom and, like her, I feel a great sense of satisfaction when I see the shelves of my cold cellar filled with all those pretty jars, waiting to add a little sunshine to the cold months ahead.
Peach chutney has long been one of my favourite preserves. It goes beautifully with roasted or grilled meats; peach and pork is a particularly pleasing combination. I prefer my chutneys on the tangy side; if you like them sweeter, you can increase the sugar slightly. The same goes for the heat – add more hot pepper flakes if you prefer. You could also substitute the peaches with pears or apricots in this recipe and get the same delicious results.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped cooking onions
2 teaspoons finely minced ginger root
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1 lime, peeled and chopped fine
4 cups of peeled, pitted, chopped peaches *
1/2 cup Sultana raisins
1/4 cup diced red pepper
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup brown sugar (or more, to taste)
*to peel peaches more easily, mark an ‘x’ in the bottom of the peach with a sharp knife, then plunge it into a pot of boiling water for about 20 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and use a paring knife to peel the skin away from the four corners of the ‘x’.
- In large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, ginger, mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves, salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes and lime. Stir often, until onions are softened and spices are fragrant (3 – 5 minutes).
- Add peaches, raisins, red pepper, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring.
- Reduce heat until the chutney is just simmering. Cook, uncovered, stirring often until the liquid has reduced and the mixture is thick (about 30 minutes). While cooking, use a spoon to slightly mash some of the peach pieces to give the chutney a smoother texture when finished. Use a potato masher if you like really smooth chutney!
- Pour into hot, sterilized canning jars, leaving a half inch (1.25 cm) headspace. Seal and process in a hot water bath if you plan to store the jars at room temperature in a coolish, dark place, for up to one year. If the jars are going to be refrigerated immediately and consumed within a month, there is no need to follow the hot water bath method.
Makes 3 – 4 jars (250 mL size) of chutney.