Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What to do with an Abundance of Peaches

This week I'm posting ideas on what to do with an abundance of harvested produce.

Yesterday it was tomatoes, today it's peaches, and tomorrow it will be herbs.

This time last year I spent the afternoon at a friend's helping her pick peaches from her tree, collecting still-good peaches that had fallen to the ground, and then sorting through them extracting the wormy ones and putting the rest into a colander to be washed and peeled for cooking.

Catherine wanted to make peach chutney and given that chutney is big in Australia--we use it like Americans use Ketchup--I was happy to help out and supervise, which meant taste-testing along the way to ensure that the flavor was just right.

When I last saw Barbara, my urban-farm friend, palettes of Palisade peaches filled her kitchen; she was preparing to make peach-pie filling that she intended freezing.

Though you can't beat a fresh peach, there's no reason not to enjoy their flavor all winter long by either
  1. freezing
  2. drying
  3. canning or
  4. cooking your peaches into
In the same the way that Catherine and I spent the afternoon making chutney last year, bringing friends together and having a peach-pie filling party, or jam-making party is a great way to celebrate fall's harvest bounty.

And once the cooking or canning or bottling is complete, everyone gets to take home a bottle or some pie filling.

Peach Chutney
Add the following to a large pot:
  1. 4 cups cider vinegar
  2. 4 cups loosely-packed brown sugar
  3. 1 cup raisins
  4. 1 large chopped onion
  5. a couple gloves finely chopped garlic (optional)
  6. about 1 inch of a fresh ginger bulb peeled and grated
  7. 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  8. 1 teaspoon curry powder
  9. 1 & half tablespoons chili powder (optional)
  10. And about 4 lbs of peaches, peeled and chopped into chunks
Bring the ingredients to the boil, turn heat down to med-low and place lid on pot. Allow chutney to cook gently for a couple of hours or until the mix begins to thicken. Stir periodically so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.

Once mixture has thickened, ladle the chutney into hot, sterilized canning jars. Leave about an inch at the top of each jar. Seal the jar with lids and rims and either process in boiling water for about 20 mins to further seal and preserve the chutney or you may simply refrigerate the sealed jars. The chutney will keep for a couple months or more if kept refrigerated.

To Serve: I love peach chutney as a condiment with chicken, lamb or pork dishes or with toast and pate or cheese and bread -- as in the Ploughman's Lunch.

Chutney can be used to spice up a plain omelet or as a dipping for french fries or any other fried or baked root vegetable.

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