Well, making jam will have to wait for another weekend, because I used up all those peaches making peach chutney. I wasn't going to do it this year, but my husband likes it and it makes a good Christmas gift. As I mentioned in the posts about canning tomatoes, canning seems like a lot of hard work, but when I actually do it, it's not difficult, just a bit time consuming. Most recipes for canning can be broken into manageable chunks, so I don't know why I sometimes want to avoid it.
If you haven't had chutney, be advised that it seems to be one of those things people either really like or don't like at all. Generally chutneys are sweet, tangy sauces served over meats or vegetables. Sometimes made of tomatoes, or apples or whatnot, the favorite in our home is peach.
It is a simple process: Peaches, onions and peppers cooked with sugar, apple cider vinegar, ginger, cinnamon and cloves until almost jammy. Serve it with pork or beef or curry. The aroma of this stuff boiling all afternoon is tantalizing, and if you haven't planned for it, you will find yourself seeking out something to serve it with that evening, so have something marinated and ready to grill.
I know I wrote that I wasn't going to share recipes for canning, just sources for trusted canning recipes, but here's the thing: I've made large batches of this chutney three years in a row, and each year I struggle to find the scrap of paper that I jotted the recipe down on. So I'm sharing it. Please, if you aren't familiar with the canning process, read up on it and follow safe canning procedures. I will trust that you've done that and will refrain from putting random canning tips in the recipe, such as "Be sure to use only perfect, unblemished fruits." and "Jars and rings may be re-used provided they are inspected and free from chips or cracks, but always use brand-new lids to ensure a proper seal." I'll assume you've read up on those things...
adapted from SeasonalChef.com
Makes about 5 to 6 pints. I like to can this in half-pint quantities, because that seems to be the right amount to serve with an average-sized tri-tip or pork roast.
Because I like to give this as gifts, and because I have a reliable source of free peaches, I always prepare a double batch. While canning recipes that call for pectin should not be doubled, this one is safe to double. Just remember that because of the volume, it will take longer to cook down a larger batch. Toward the end of cooking stir more frequently to prevent the concentrated sugars from burning to the bottom of the pot.
3 1/2 lbs firm peaches
1 1/2 cups golden seedless raisins
1 large white or yellow onion
1 yellow pepper
2 hot peppers - I use poblanos for a spicy-but-not-too-spicy chutney
1/2 cup crystallized ginger
2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
1. Chop peaches, onion, peppers and ginger into small pieces. Peeling the peaches is not necessary. Combine all ingredients, except pecans, in large, heavy-bottomed pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until thickened and jammy, so that chutney mounds on a spoon. I find that it takes approximately 90 minutes for the chutney to reduce by almost a third. Toward the end of cooking time, you will need to stir more frequently to avoid burning. Stir in pecans, if using.
2. Meanwhile heat and sterilize pint or half-pint jars and lids. Ladle hot chutney into hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Seal and process pints or half-pints in simmering water bath for 10 minutes. If you prefer, this can be frozen rather than canned.