This chutney uses the best of the harvest, including Northern grown ginger!
It’s harvest time in Vermont, and that means lots of beautiful produce just waiting to be preserved for the rest of the year. Apples, squashes, corn, tomatoes, berries, peaches, ginger.
Yes, fresh ginger!
There are quite a few smart Northern farmers who figured out that ginger loves our long summer daylight hours and humid climate. Rhizomes are purchased from Hawaii in spring and planted in greenhouses where they are nurtured all summer with care. They are ready for harvest now, and what a treat it is!
The best flavor!
The local ginger because of its freshness is extremely flavorful and delicious. The skin is very thin, so I don’t bother peeling it in any application. I buy a lot and tuck it in the freezer to use all year.
What goes with ginger? Lemon, of course, and our beautiful local peaches as well. Throw in some warm spices, sugar, vinegar, and a jalapeño or two, and you have all the makings of a flavorful chutney. A little tart, a little sour, a little sweet, and a little heat adds zest to any number of dishes.
This was a pretty good year for peaches, flavorful and juicy, and that is where I started, at a beautiful orchard surrounded by apples and peaches and blue skies.
So, what is it YOU hate doing in the kitchen?
We all have a few kitchen tasks that we would rather do without. One of mine is blanching and peeling vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes or peaches. If I were going to display a perfect jar of peaches at the state fair, I’m told I should take the time to bring a massive pot of water to boil on the hottest day of the year, drop my fruits in, then transfer them to ice water, then pull the peels off with a little paring knife. I might.
But most probably, I would just peel them.
No patience for the boring
I don’t have the patience for tedious work that doesn’t really produce substantially better results, and I don’t have any desire to can peaches for the state fair. I have an inexpensive serrated peeler that does a beautiful job removing the peel without a lot of the flesh, and that’s all we need it to do! It’s far quicker than blanching, and works great on any stone fruit, or tomatoes as well! In less time than it takes for the water to boil, you are done with the task.
I’ve added the apple for its natural pectin, that’s what my mother used to do and it works like a charm helping to thicken the chutney without adding commercial pectin.
Make it to please your own tastes
Any recipe like this with lots of spices means you can have your own way with it. Halfway through the cooking, give it a taste, keeping in mind that the flavors will be more pronounced as they set. But in general, do you want more sweetness? Tartness? Is there enough heat. The jalapeño peppers in this batch were beautifully spicy, so I didn’t have to worry about adding more heat. If not, you could add some crushed red peppers flakes or a dried chili after tasting halfway through. If you don’t want any heat, omit them all, but a little warmth at least is part of the charm of chutney.
I use organic ingredients whenever possible. When using the entire lemon, peel and all, it is particularly important to use organic because conventionally grown citrus carries a lot of pesticides. Peppers as well, so look for organic first, and even then, scrub well!
The recipe below makes 8 pints, which is a lot; I make it to use all year and to give away at Christmastime and our church’s food sales. However, you can easily halve it if you like.
Zesty Ginger Peach Chutney
- 1 cup dried tart cherries
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 4 oz. cognac
- 6 lbs. peaches, ripe and juicy, not too soft
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 1 tsp. allspice
- 1 tsp. cardamom
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. mustard seed
- ½ cup fresh ginger, shredded
- 1 Granny Smith Apple, shredded
- 1/3 cup crystalized ginger, chopped
- 2 Serrano or Jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced
- 2 organic lemons, seeded, not peeled
Prep your ingredients and get everything together:
Place cherries and raisins in a bowl and add the cognac. Set aside to plump up while you prep everything else.
Peel the peaches, remove the pits, and dice into ½-inch pieces. Don’t worry if a few bits of peel are missed, they will only add to the color of the dish! Measure out the spices to a small bowl.
Shred the apple. I use the smaller grating side of my box grater, the one I use for hash browns.
Shred the fresh ginger, using the same grater.
Chop the crystalized ginger.
Slice the peppers.
Slice the lemons (don’t peel) and pop out the seeds.
Make the chutney:
In a large, heavy pan, place the brown sugar, spices, and vinegar over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and the spices bloom. Add all the rest of the ingredients and stir well.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about an hour, stirring now and then, more often toward the end of cooking time to prevent scorching.
Once thickened (and this will continue to thicken as it cools) ladle into clean jars to ½-inch of the rim.
You can either refrigerate them, process in a water bath for long term storage, below, or freeze as suggested by my friend blogger Chef Mimi. Here’s a link to her site. The Chef Mimi Blog
For the water bath:
Pack your jars and carefully wipe the rims. Add the fresh lid and screw the band only finger tight, don’t force it. Place the jars in a hot water bath that covers them by two inches. Once the water is back to a boil, process for 15 minutes. Let rest five minutes, then place gently on a counter overnight. Check that each jar has sealed – the center will not flex when you push in on it with your finger. Store in a cool place.
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