Mid-August already and the kids are back in school. For your garden this is a time of plenty and plants are still yielding loads of fresh fruits and vegetables. What are we supposed to do with all this bounty? You can give some to your neighbors or coworkers, or you can experiment with that age-old process of preserving or canning.
This is the time of year to take advantage of the abundance of fresh tomatoes, peaches, cucumbers and all the other lovely fruits and vegetables. They are typically at their peak of flavor and freshness as well as the lowest prices you will see all year. So, why not invest a bit of time and a little money for supplies and make some preserves, chutney or pickles?
Growing up, I remember my mother and grandmother canning, or freezing, all manner of things including sausage. Strange I know, but my grandparents said they used “everything on the pig but the squeal”! Canning or curing meats were the only ways to preserve them without refrigeration. – the same goes for the fruits and vegetables from the garden.
Strawberries, peaches, pears, blackberries and apples were all grown or available locally and could be preserved as jams, jellies, “butters”, or as chutney. Tomatoes could be juiced, canned whole, made into sauce or chunky ketchup called chow-chow. The point is that almost nothing goes to waste.
I still make chutney, pickles, and the occasional preserves or jellies. Peach is one of my favorite and a few years ago, I found an old English recipe for Peach Conserve. It’s not quite a jam or jelly. Peach Conserve can be used as a topping on pancakes or waffles, fresh raspberries or in mousses or molds or as a filling for crepes or sweet soufflés.
Peach chutney is another way to enjoy this delectable fruit into the winter. The delicate flavor of the peaches pairs well with creamy brie, full fat soft cheeses and roasted chicken. If you can save a can for the holidays, it also enhances the flavor of cold roast Turkey.
Tomatoes are another fruit, yes technically it’s a fruit that lends itself to canning. I’ve made tomato sauce and juice before but never chutney. I came across this recipe when I was looking for the peach chutney also featured today. It’s an option to use some of that over-abundance of tomatoes that you have out in the garden.
Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well.
Makes about 1 ½ to 2 LBS (I made this a couple of years ago, and think it was about 5 or 6 quarts)
Place the peaches in a bowl and cover with bowling water. Let stand for a minute then drain off the water. Remove and save the peels, halve the peaches and remove the stones. Crack the stones* in half and place them, the kernels inside, and the peels into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until only a thin layer of fluid remains. Pour this through a sieve and press to squeeze out the last bit of liquid.
Place the liquid back into a large saucepan. Cut the peaches into thick slices and put about ¾ of them into the pan with the sugar. Stir the mixture over low heat until the sugar dissolves then bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally without a cover.
Add the remaining fruit and brandy (if used) and bring to back to a boil then simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Transfer the conserve to sterilized jars and seal with lids and rings. I placed mine in a hot water bath for about 5 to 10 minutes with the rings slightly loose to form a good seal on the lid. Allow to cool and store in a cool, dark place.
NOTE*: Cracking the stones is difficult. I gave up after a few but used the ones I had.
Makes about 3 to 4 LBS
Place the peaches in a bowl and cover with bowling water. Let stand for a minute then drain off the water. Remove the peels, halve the peaches and remove the stones. Cut fruit into thick slices.
Chop the onions and place them in a saucepan with the peaches, garlic and ginger. Chop the dates and add them to the pan with the sugar and vinegar. Add a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
Cover the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer for about 45 minutes, until thickened. Stir frequently during cooking to prevent it from sticking to the pan.
Transfer the chutney to sterilized jars and cover with lids and rings. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 to 10 minutes. Label and store in a cool dry place for 2 weeks to allow the flavor to mature before using.
Makes about 3 to 4 LBS
Place the tomatoes in a large bowl, cover with boiling water and allow them to stand for 30 seconds (you may want to do a few at a time to not over-cook). Then drain, peel and chop them with the raisins. Finely chop the onions. Mix all the ingredients together in a large pan and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to simmer for 1 ¼ hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to pan. Uncover the pan and continue to cook for another 15 minutes.
Transfer the chutney to sterilized jars and cover with lids and rings. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 to 10 minutes to get a good seal. Store in a cool dry place for 1 month before using to allow flavor to mature.