Peaches.  I have a love/hate relationship with them.  On their own, they are juicy and sweet.  If you bake them into a cake, they can be equally lovely.  But, then there seems to be this tipping point where peaches go from being gorgeous to gooey, from being sweet to sickening.  I’m thinking about things like cobblers – gah – so sweet and syrupy and pasty that they ruin peaches for me.

But, peaches are good for things other than desserts – they are fantastic when grilled with shrimp or chicken and they positively rock the joint when combined with chillies.  This chutney is great when combined with chicken or shrimp or as a condiment for cheese.

Don’t be intimidated by the thought of canning – if I can do it, anyone can.  Simply putting the jars through the dishwasher will sterilize them (just make sure you don’t touch the insides of the jars or lids after they’re done).  I also like to put them in a 200 F oven for 20 minutes or so while the chutney is cooking just to make doubly sure.  You don’t have to go to the store to buy jam jars – wash and reuse the ones you get from the grocery (this is REAL recycling!).  The best investment you can make is to spend $7 or $8 on a wide-mouth jam funnel.  It’ll save you time and effort and LOADS of cleaning.

How good is this recipe?  My brother ate nearly an entire jar in one sitting.  This year, I won’t make the mistake of taking home only one for him!

Peach and Chilli Chutney

  • 2 lbs peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped into 1/2″ dice
  • 6 baseball-sized onions, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 cups dates, diced
  • 6 red chillies, seeded and minced (if they’re small, use 8 )
  • 4″ piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 8 cloves garlic, microplaned
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp ground mace
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for at least an hour, up to two hours, until the mixture is thickened.  While it’s still hot, ladle into warm sterlized jars and screw the lid on tightly.  As the chutney cools, it will seal itself (if you use jars with the safety “belly button”, you’ll hear a very satisfying *ping* when the vacuum is formed).  Let the chutney season for 4-6 weeks before opening.  Unopened, the chutney should be good until the next peach season.  This recipe makes eight to ten jars.

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