When the first cool weather starts, I try to make quick work of whatever fruits and vegetables are coming down to the end of their summer bounty. Often, I take on too much and find myself miserable knowing that I fell for that inexpensive bushel of tomatoes, squashes, beans, or peaches or other stone fruits. I know that baskets of apples can’t be far behind which means apple butter and applesauce to be made – fall is a busy time in the kitchen!
Tomatoes and peaches are probably my least favorite products to can as both need to be skinned which is always so messy and sticky. Many years ago a friend and I went picking peaches and came home with about 6 very ripe bushels. We spent the entire night in the kitchen dripping in peach juice, sticking to everything as we canned and canned and canned. I have tried never to do that again.
Tomatoes, once skinned, are fairly easy to deal with as I just chop them up with some lemon juice, place them in sterilized quart canning jars, and process in a boiling water bath for about 45 minutes. I don’t salt them as I prefer to do that when I use them in whatever recipe they are needed. I usually add chopped basil and garlic to half of the jars so I have a simple marinara sauce ready to go all winter.
On the other hand peaches take some thought. You can make jam – the quickest and easiest way to use them. Or, you can make chutney, relish, salsa, or leave them whole and make pickled peaches which are terrific as an accompaniment to winter roasts, turkey, ham, or wild birds. I have friends who love, love, love fruit salsas so this year I made a batch of peach salsa just for them. Although great on its own as a garnish for grilled pork, poultry, fish, or shellfish, this salsa is also terrific mixed into mayonnaise for a sandwich spread or salad dressing or into sour cream for a taco garnish.
Makes about five 8-ounce jars
6 pounds ripe peaches, skinned, pitted, and diced
Juice of 2 limes or to taste
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, membrane removed, and diced
1 to 2 red or green hot chile peppers, cored, seeded, membrane removed, and minced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
½ cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Combine the peaches and lime juice in a large mixing bowl. Add the bell peppers, chile peppers, onion, cilantro, and garlic, stirring to combine. Add salt to taste.
Ladle into five 8-ounce sterilized canning jars, seal, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from the hot water and place on wire racks to cool. If you don’t want to can the salsa, it will keep, covered and refrigerated, for at least a week.