Late last month, we received a case of mighty tasty peaches and nectarines from the Washington State Stone Fruit Association as part of their “Canbassador” program. As a “Canbassador,” I agree to can something and write about it and, in turn, they send me cases of fresh fruit to use – a mutually beneficial relationship which kicked off with a case of sweet cherries in June.
We ate quite a lot of them out of hand – in fact, our older son ate so many that I had to threaten to take away his dessert to get him to put the brakes on before he suffered any ill effects. Thus far, the power of dessert is unparalleled when it comes to “reasoning” with our children. Usually, it’s the only thing that works. I also made a delicious peach cobbler with biscuit topping and a delectable, gluten-free peach crisp but a case contains rather a lot of fruit and it quickly became apparent that some canning was in order.
Chutney was our go-to choice since we use quite a lot of it in the course of the year. The combination of sweet, spicy and pickled goes so well with curries, fritters, meats, and more. We’ve made loquat chutney, apple rhubarb chutney, sweet cherry chutney and plum chutney – all delicious. But this was our first time using nectarines and the results were very fine.
How can you really go wrong with perfect, sweet, ripe nectarines, fresh ginger, garlic, jalapeños, bell pepper, onion, and peppercorns plus plenty of vinegar and sugar to turn it into something that is both zingy and also shelf-stable. This recipe also calls for a few other spices and some Darjeeling tea, which struck me as a novel way to add even more flavor.
I have to thank my college friend, Lexy who lives in New York and works in publishing for sending me a copy of Kevin West's beautifully written, wonderfully thorough book, “Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving” from which this recipe hails.
It’s a cookbook that reads more like a memoir and is nicely rooted in place – in this case, Greenvalley, Calif., where he lived when he wrote it. It’s joined the ranks of my favorite canning and preserving cookbooks, along with “Food in Jars” by Marisa McLellan and “Put 'em Up!” by Sherri Brooks Vinton.
If you’ve never canned anything before or just need a little refresher, check out my Canning 101 post before you dive in.
Nectarine or Peach Chutney
From Kevin West's delightful book, "Saving the Season"
Makes 4 pints
5 pounds yellow peaches or nectarines, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups organic or turbinado sugar
2 cups apple-cider vinegar
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup chopped Vidalia onion
1 sweet banana pepper or 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 or 3 fresh green jalapeños, diced, or adjust to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons freshly grated turmeric, or 1/2 teaspoon ground
4 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala (a ground spice mixture containing pepper, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, cumin, and star anise)
2 teaspoons Darjeeling tea (or 4 tea bags)
1. Combine all the ingredients in a deep pot and bring to a boil, stirring a few times. Lower the heat to a simmer and reduce the mixture for up to an hour, until all the excess liquid has boiled away and what remains is thick and jammy. Taste it and adjust the seasonings to your liking. I am wimpy about spice so I tend to err on the mild side of things but you may like it hot in which case, you may want to add more chilis.
2. Ladle the hot chutney into four prepared pint jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe the rims with a damp, clean cloth, top with the jar lids, add the rings and turn until tight but do not overtighten then process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. For best flavor, let the chutney cure for a month before you eat it.
Related post on The Garden of Eating: Apple Rhubarb Chutney