A Peach Chutney for Picnics

With the gorgeous fall weather we’ve been having, shouldn’t the chutney get to go outside, too? Having simmered on the stove for more than two hours, I thought it deserved a moment of sunshine before being banished to a dark corner of the basement. Next time it sees the light of day it will be tucked neatly into a cheese sandwich, on its way to lunch in the park.

This is a versatile, dependable chutney. Last year, I tossed in a lime. This time, for the September CanJam, I went with a more stripped-down version. No lime, no garlic, minimal ginger. And—because it had become increasingly clear that I was never going to use them any other way—I used dried gooseberries instead of raisins . . . but you should feel free to stick to raisins, or even currants. Given the amount of sugar and vinegar in this recipe, it’s fairly flexible and safe to make with other stone fruits, apples, and pears.

Peach Chutney

7 1/2 pounds peaches, peeled and coarsely chopped (or even squeezed)
1 pound raisins, currants, or dried gooseberries
3 3/4 c. cider vinegar
1 1/2 pound brown sugar
3 T mustard seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole clove
5 small fresh hot peppers, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
1″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced

1) Toss everything into a very large pot. This will need to cook for a long time, so you’re looking for your thickest, heaviest pot to ensure even heat distribution. Stir everything together and bring rapidly to a boil. Turn the heat town to medium and walk away. Occasionally return to stir a bit. Cook for about 2 hours, or until everything is gooey and a deep, dark brown.

2) Meanwhile, heat a boiling-water bath. Prepare your jars and lids. I needed 6 pints (actually 5 pints and 2 half-pints, for gifts). When the chutney is ready, transfer the hot chutney to hot jars. Adjust the two-piece lids and process for 15 minutes in the boiling-water bath.

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