My final peach season send-off. This treasure was awaiting a friend to join in the fun, we finally got our collective acts together, got the very last of local peaches from the 250 year old orchard up the street. Once our area was full of farms, now we are a ‘bedroom community’ of NYC, with a handful of small farms (under 5 acre) and 2, quite old, large ones, both orchards who produce corn, tomatoes and rhubarb in the summer as well. I appreciate the seasonal fruits grown right here in suburban-land.
Chutney is essentially a relish, with a myriad of spices. The vinegar/ sweetener combination adds a touch of sweet and sour, depending on your sugar content. The amount of acid (vinegar) should not be altered, though many chutneys are made with high acid fruits, the addition of peppers and onions can throw that balance off, so we add a good measure of vinegar. You can use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar depending on your recipe and preference. Spices add the true flavours to chutney, mingling with the base ingredients, for instance, this peach chutney could easily have had warm flavours instead of hot, by adding cinnamon, all spice, vanilla, or maybe a splash of maple syrup, try that if it appeals more to you. We didn’t add raisins, which are traditional, thinking ahead on the overall taste we wanted, but you certainly can.
Peach Chutney with Ethiopian Spice
4 lbs Peaches, pitted and chopped into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces
3 medium onions, chopped
4 sweet red peppers, seeded and chopped, or a mix of red and green (we used a long, sweet variety)
1 hot pepper, diced (or not, your choice)
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 heaping tbls Ethiopian Berbere spice mix (OR a blend of chili powder, green cardamom, dried ginger, allspice, pepper)
2 tsp salt
To retain the colour of your peaches as you chop them, put vinegar into your pot first, then peaches as they are ready. Add sugar, onion, peppers and bring to a boil, lower heat and keep simmering, stirring frequently, until the chutney begins to cook down and thicken, about 40 minutes. Add spices and salt, continue cooking until chutney is thickened enough to part slightly when a spoon is dragged through it (not like parting the Red Sea, that is too thick). Some people like chutney a bit loose, like a sauce, cook it down until you are happy with it, still stirring so it doesn’t burn.
Ladle into your readied jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space, place in boiling water bath to process for 10 minutes. Turn heat off, leave lid on and let jars rest for 5 minutes more, this ensures a good seal. Remove jars, lifting straight up and out of pot, to a dish towel in a protected place you can leave the jars for 12-24 hours. Then check for seal, remove rings and wipe down jars. Let chutney ‘ripen’ for a few weeks before eating. If you can.
This makes about 10 8oz jars, or 5 pints.