When you live in a State that produces numerous tree fruits plus varieties of grapes that end up as fine wine (on occasion) – although unexpected, it’s no surprise that people have peach, plum and apple trees growing in their gardens.
In this case, a friend’s peach tree planted from seed over 30 years ago, was so weighed down with big fat peaches, that a third of them had flung themselves off the tree to lie, nestled in the grass – no doubt to save the branches from snapping under their weight.
A basket full of windfall peaches was a welcome gift and as there were so many – and as I already have a fridge full of jam – I decided to make chutney. Spiked with fresh ginger, clove, cardamom and chili, this is a deeply fragrant relish that’s simply divine slathered over soft goat cheese, on a toasted baguette. It would also enhance other cheeses, such as a good sharp Cheddar and it works brilliantly with pork, lamb chops, sausages and cold cuts.
Spiced peach chutney is easy to make and keeps well in the fridge for about 6 months, stored in sealed glass jars.
SPICED PEACH CHUTNEY
(Makes approx six 8-oz / 0.23 kilo jars)
4lbs (1.8 kilos) of ripe peaches
1 and 2/3 cups (400 ml measure) of soft light brown sugar
1 cup (240ml) of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger
1 smallish red onion, finely chopped
12 green cardamom pods, lightly cracked to expose the seeds
4 whole cloves
1 dried red chili, seeds removed and crumbled
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
If the skins wont peel off the peaches easily without removing chunks of flesh, you’ll need to blanch them as follows:
Cut a small X in the base of each peach and put them in a large bowl. Have a separate large bowl filled with iced water to one side.
Pour boiling water over the peaches and let it sit for half a minute, then drain and dunk them in the iced water. Drain again and the skins should now slip off easily.
Cut the skinned peaches into smallish chunks and discard (or plant) the stones. Set aside.
In a large heavy pan, combine the vinegar, sugar, onion, ginger, cardamom and cloves. Bring it to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the onion begins to soften (5-8 minutes).
Add the peaches, chili and salt. Stir well to combine and bring to a simmer. Cook for about an hour stirring at 10-15 minute intervals, until the peaches are translucent and soft.
Allow to cool a bit before ladling into *clean glass screw-top jars. Spiced Peach Chutney will keep in the fridge for 6-8 months.
*To sterilize glass jars for preserves, wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well and dry in a 250F / 120C oven for 30 minutes.