Set aside an hour or so to make my spiced peach chutney and your future self will absolutely thank you as you enjoy some summer flavours on a chilly, winter’s day. ☺️
It’s only early March, but the temperatures up our way are already dropping at night, and this morning we heard one of our less welcome harbingers of autumn – the patter of tiny feet in the roof-space, suggesting that the local mice are looking for warmer quarters. 😲
Their access to the house will be dealt with in short order, but something else that needs to be seen to in an equally speedy fashion is the preservation of some of the summer stone fruit. I like to keep some sunny flavours put by for the cooler months by making jams and chutneys, and one of our favourites is my spiced peach chutney.
When I was child growing up in my grandmother’s house, making any preserves involved enormous vats of macerating fruit and hours of stirring over boiling pots. These were epic, sticky, campaigns that took up all of the kitchen, all of the table space, and all of the day, as an entire domestic fruit tree crop was dealt with in one concerted offensive.
There’s not too many of us who have the time, patience or inclination for that kind of effort these days, but jam and chutney making doesn’t need to be an heroic saga of endurance – preserving can easily be done in small batches. Putting up a nice store of spiced peach chutney can be as simple as setting aside some clean recycled jars and an hour or two, and it can be surprisingly therapeutic – I think we can all do with some self care at the moment.
All you need to do is get your fruit, flavour your fruit, cook your fruit, and get it into some seriously clean jars. And here’s my tip for sterile jars – run them through a dishwasher cycle then pop them in the oven, at about 130C, for 10-15 minutes, just before filling them. It’s safest to fill the jars when they are still hot. Cold jars and hot chutney are a risky combination – the hot preserves can cause the glass to break.
There’s still plenty of stone fruit left in the stores, so buy some peaches, plug in your favourite music, audio book, or podcast and get chopping – this recipe makes about 4 x 300 ml jars. Your future self will thank you for this when you are thinking sunny thoughts as you enjoy delicious spiced peach chutney on a cold wintry day.
Spiced Peach Chutney
- 750 gms fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and cubed
- 450 gms dark brown sugar
- 400 mls apple cider vinegar, or dark malt vinegar
- 100 gms soft dates, chopped
- 100 gms raisins or sultanas
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cm fresh ginger, grated
- 1/2 small lemon, fruit finely chopped, zest grated
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (or try Szechuan peppers)
- 1 star anise
- Place peaches, garlic, ginger and vinegar in a large, heavy-based saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until boiling. Continue cooking for 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly until the fruit begins to soften.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, reduce the heat to medium-low, until you get a slow regular bubbling, then cook 30-40 minutes until thick and sticky, stirring often.
- Hunt down and remove the star anise, ladle into hot, sterile jars. Seal well and label.
- Store in a cool, dark place for 3-4 weeks to allow the flavours to mature before using.