The Georgia peaches at my local Farmer's Market are so good I can't stop myself from buying them every time I stop for fresh local produce. This year I have already made peach jam, peach pie for company three times, and peach ice cream at least a couple of times now that I have a new ice cream maker. I just posted a recipe for a light peach smoothie in the lake blog. Normally, by this time, I would scream if I saw another peach; but they are so good, I can't stop looking for recipes to make use of this sensational harvest.
One thing I have not made is peach chutney, something I have been thinking of making and canning for presents this Christmas. The recipe I have in mind comes from Damon Lee Fowler's The Savannah Cookbook. It is made every summer by the women of St John's Episcopal Church for sale at their annual bazaar and though it is indeed a labor of love, it is very simple to make. This recipe makes a lot of chutney, so this afternoon I decided to make a test run and try a small batch. The only thing I did not have was fresh ginger so I used caramelized ginger and thought it added a nice touch to the texture of the chutney.
I know canning sounds like a lot of work, particularly in this heat. It isn't and you will be happy when Christmas comes along and half of your presents are already sitting in the pantry. Wine has gotten so expensive it is no longer an option for a hostess gift unless you like the people an awful lot. More and more, in this world of prepackaged ready to eat junk, homemade food is a treat so set aside an afternoon and kill two birds with one stone. And when winter comes and you have to entertain, a couple of jars of chutney will come in very handy to serve with a fancy pork roast, ham or game.
Make sure you use golden raisins. They are sweeter and blend well with the color of the peaches. For a variation, I thought sweet red peppers would make a nice addition.
Makes 7 to 7 1/2 pints
3 cups cider vinegar
7 cups white sugar
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 TB mustard seeds
6 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced, 2 tablespoons
3 cups golden raisins
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped (I used caramelized ginger pieces)
1 TB kosher salt
2 dozen (12 cups) Georgia peaches, blanched to remove the skin, pit removed, sliced into wedges
Add 1 large sweet red pepper, seeded, diced 1/4 inch, about 1/2 cup (optional)
Put the vinegar and sugar into a non-reactive pot, place over medium heat and bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes.. Add the onion, jalapeño, raisins, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, salt and peaches and simmer 10 minutes or until peaches are cooked. Do not overcook so peaches don't get mushy
Pack the chutney in sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch at the top. Seal with sterilized new lids and process jars in boiling water for 5 minutes. As an alternative, chutney will keep in the refrigerator covered for a week.
If you are serving right away, allow to cool 15 minutes and serve room temperature