GINGER PEACH CHUTNEY is a condiment made from fresh fruits and strong spices, it simmers on the stovetop for almost an hour until it reaches a glossy sheen; packed into jars and stored for several months to build up plenty of intense flavor. Sweet with the summer flavor of ripe peaches and an undertone of warm spiciness that only ginger can provide, this chutney will turn simple grilled chicken into a work of art. Give a few jars away for gifts, but be sure to keep plenty for your own pantry.
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 fresh cayenne or 1 jalapeño pepper ( to personal taste)
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon mustard seed
1 large red onion, thinly sliced ( about 1 cup)
4 pounds fresh just-ripe peaches (about 16)
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins
¼ cup fresh grated ginger (3-inch knob) or finely chopped crystallized ginger
In a large kettle, combine the sugar and the vinegar and bring to a simmer over medium heat, until the sugar dissolves. Finely dice the cayenne or jalapeño, keep the seeds if you like it hot. (Take care not to touch your face while doing so; wash your hands and the knife carefully when done.) Add the salt, mustard seed, and onion. Simmer for about 15 minutes, while your prepare the peaches.
Bring a kettle of water to a boil and drop in the peaches. Remove after one minute, cool slightly, and slip off the skins. Cut into slices and then roughly chop into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces. (There will be about 10 cups of chopped peaches, although an exact amount is not necessary.) Drain the excess juice that will collect in the bottom of the bowl (it is a wonderful sweet nectar for the cook to drink!) and add the peaches to the simmering vinegar brine. Stir in the cranberries or raisins and the ginger.
Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat and allow to cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peaches and the brine take on a glossy look. Take care not to overcook the peaches, because they will cook again once the canning jars are processed, and it is best to have chunks remain.
There are no hard and fast rules for when the chutney is ready, yet you will notice that the peaches turn a darker color, and the chutney has a glossy sheen. Remove from heat before it overcooks. Fill sterilized jars; wipe the rims clean with a hot towel and screw on the sterilized lids. Flip upside down to seal, then immerse the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes, to ensure proper sealing. Label the jars and set on a shelf for a minimum of 3 months to allow the flavors to meld and ripen.
Back Story: It was in late September, with the leaves changing color out side my kitchen window and the counter tops filled with signs of the summer’s harvest when I took a chance. As a seasoned gardener, I had already packed up dozens of jars tomatoes, pickles, jams, and frozen pesto by the pound, yet was not quite ready to put away the canning kettle and had a case of clean jars on hand.
I consulted a neighbor who had given me a jar of her ginger peach chutney the Christmas before, and she shared her recipe along with sage advice. ” You can’t take shortcuts with chutney.” She admonished. ” It’s not like making jam where you just add pectin, stir and fill up your jars. Chutney is cooked for a very long time on the stove, slowly. Like making a quilt, it’s made with a sprinkling of love and every batch will turn out different.”
Putting food by means something different to everybody, but is a term that is used to preserve the summer harvest season. A hundred years ago, the choice was not an option, yet in today’s world putting food by means taking time away from fall hikes, sports events, movies, gardening and a thousand other reasons for not spending a beautiful day in the kitchen steaming up the windows with the sweat from simmering kettles.