Recipes excerpted from
SAVING THE SEASON
Yields 4 pints
When you’re making preserves, fully 50 percent of your success is in the shopping—good fruit makes good jam. Technique matters also, and a sound recipe makes adifference. But the crucial remaining factor is organization. Especially when dealing witha large quantity of perishable fruits or vegetables, you have to think through your strategy and plot out your work. If you can’t get everything put up immediately, youhave to take into account how the produce will ripen—and soon fade—as it waits for you. My strategy for how to use a bushel of peaches would look something like this:
First day/underripe fruit:
Pectin levels peak just before ripening, so I’d start with peach jelly, using the same technique as for Apricot Jelly on page 184. If you don’t want tomake jelly, give the peaches another day to ripen.
First day/just- ripe fruit:
Peaches that are fragrant and slightly yielding but still firmenough to handle are ideal for canning in syrup, as either halves or slices in syrup.
Second day/fully ripe fruit:
As the peaches become tender and fragrant, make jam.
Third day/dead- ripe fruit:
By now, the peaches will likely have a few brown spots thatwill need to be cut away, so I’d work up a batch of chutney, which requires long, slowcooking that breaks down the fruit anyway.
Fourth day/tired fruit:
Whatever peaches haven’t been used by now will likely look alittle sad, but even really soft, spotty ones can be trimmed for a batch of Spiced PeachButter (page 239). southern peach chutney evolved from an Indian relish called
that British colonials brought home during the days when the sun never set on theEmpire. According to
Oxford Companion to Food, chatni
is made fresh before ameal by grinding spices and adding them to a paste of tamarind, garlic, and limes or coconut. Pieces of fruit or vegetable may be incorporated, but the chief flavor characteristic is sour. The British turned that into a fruit preserve, explains the
Oxford Companion: British chutneys are usually spiced, sweet, fruit
pickles, having something of the consistency of jam. Highest esteem is accorded to mango
chutney. . . .
Chutneylater spread across the Atlantic to the
West Indies and the American South, where
theesteemed mango was replaced by the honorable
5 pounds yellow peaches or nectarines, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes3 cups organic or turbinado sugar 2 cups apple-cider vinegar ¾ cup raisins