Every summer and fall, I try to make at least two or three batches of chutney. It’s a handy thing to have to tuck into gift bags (it helps to break up the monotony of all the jams) and it makes for a very easy potluck contribution (one log of goat cheese + a jar of chutney + baguette rounds = happy diners). Last year, I did versions with black plums and apricots. So far this year, I’ve made cherry chutney and this batch of honey-sweetened peach chutney with some of the Canbassador fruit.
Chutney is not one of the condiments I ate during my formative years, but it has grown on me in my adulthood. These days, it’s one of my refrigerator staples and on days when the leftover pickings are slim, I pull out some cheese, make a piece of toast, and grab some chutney. Works every time. Right now, I’m eating the very end of the black plum from last summer, as well as the dregs of the persimmon chutney from this project.
Before you start making this chutney, you should know that when it comes to removing the skin from relatively small amounts of peaches (and tomatoes, too), I’ve changed my strategy. I am no longer a fan of the blanch and chill. Instead, I cut the peaches into quarters and pull out the pits and heap them in a heatproof bowl. While I work, I bring a kettle of water to a boil.
Once all the peaches are sliced, I pour the boiling water over the fruit. Let it sit for a few minutes, until you see the skins starting to wrinkle. Drain the fruit, rinse with cold tap water, and peel. It works really well and feels easier and more streamlined.
The only thing I can’t stress enough is the importance of using a the heatproof bowl. One very distracted evening, I used a glass bowl that I thought was Pyrex. It was not and it shattered from the hot water. I was able to salvage some of the fruit, but it made a mess and was generally unfortunate.
Cooking times can vary a great deal with chutney. I always plan a secondary kitchen project when I have a batch going, so that I can stay close to the pot and give it a good stir every few minutes. It has a tendency to stick on the bottom as the cooking time nears its end, so try stay focused in those last moments of simmering.
The only other useful tip I have to share when it comes to chutney is that it’s best to open a sealed jar an hour or so before you plan on serving it. When you first open chutney, all you can taste is the vinegar. However, if you let it breathe a little, the vinegar dissipates a little and the flavors of the fruit and spices are more prominent.
How do you like to eat chutney?
- 4 pounds yellow peaches (about 8-9 cups once peeled and chopped)
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced (about 1 cup)
- 2 cups golden raisins
- 1 3/4 cups red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups honey
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds (any color is fine)
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Cut peaches into quarters and remove pits. Pile peaches into a large, heat-proof bowl.
- Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Once it boils, pour the water over the peach quarters. Let them sit for 2-3 minutes, until the skins wrinkle and pull away from the fruit.
- Peel the skins away and chop the peaches.
- In a large, non-reactive pot, combine the peaches, onion, raisins, vinegar, honey, mustard seeds, ginger, salt, red chili flakes, and lemon zest and juice.
- Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring regularly, at a brisk simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the chutney thickens, darkens, and the flavors start to marry.
- While the chutney cooks, prepare a boiling water bath canner and enough jars to hold 4 pints of chutney (I like to use half pint jars for a product like this one).
- When the chutney is finished cooking, funnel it into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
- When time is up, remove jars from canner and place them on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
- Once jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. Sealed jars can be stored on the pantry shelf for up to a year. Unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.