Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

All in a Day's Work....

chutney and jam 008Yesterday I finally got around to the peaches that we got through a local coop - woot! Gorgeous fresh picked peaches - yeah! We are, of course, eating peach everything at the moment. Peaches on yogurt, peach cobbler, peaches just for the heck of it, you know - just peachy all the way around. So, to say we've 'stolen' some peaches from the boxes is a mild understatement (who would tell the truth, really?) But, from the 1.5 bushels I've processed so far, I made 15 jars of peach jam. Yuuuuuum! I just follow the recipe on the sure jell/ball pectin packet. Too many times, I've tried no sugar, low sugar jam approaches and wound up with syrup so I just suck it up and pour the sugar in, moderation being my approach of the moment. I mean, there is alot of sugar in a batch of jam but - how much do you actually eat at a time?

I still have another 1/2 bushel of peaches to go so I'm guessing I'll get another dozen jams made today which will total 27 jars. That may sound like alot but, when spread over the year and accounting for the jars I will 'gift' whenever the mood strikes me - not so much. Since the berries on the old homestead (feels so weird to say that) are sparse at best this year - we likely won't have any blackberry jam so peach will be the jam of our year. If I gift 5-7 jars, that leaves us 1.5 jars a month. That would be fine except the huscreature is a biscuit eating machine and he still weighs 5 lbs. less than when he graduated high school so his logic tells him it's perfectly okay to have lots of butter and jam dripping off of the biscuit. I sear, I smell his breakfast and I gain five pounds. It just isn't fair, I tell you.

The chutney is my favorite. It goes well on anything you want to roast in the oven like potatoes, fish, chicken, etc. It tastes divine on a good steak with some fresh baked bread or, you can marinated some tofu in it and then saute it with the chutney for a sort of blackened, spicy tofu addition to your meal. Very versatile, lots of flavor - that's my way of cooking so we get along just fine. This recipe will make about 5 quart jars of chutney. My canner can hold 6 but I find they are easier to manage when I only put 5 jars in there:

* As note of interest - and because I am a total freak and like to figure this stuff out - 3-4 moderately sized peaches, when skinned and pitted and chopped, equal about 2 cups of peaches. Yes, I counted. Over and over, and the average was consistent within a 1/4 cup margin. I told you, FREAK!

16 cups of peeled, cubed and slightly smashed peaches
1 tbsp of the following: garam masala, cardamon pods, pickling spices
1 teaspoon of the following: pepper flakes, cumin, vanilla extract,cinnamon
Pinch of: ground clove, nutmeg
4.5 cups of sugar
4 cups of apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp fresh minced ginger and garlic
1 onion, chopped fine
fresh cilantro to taste
1 fresh Serrano pepper, diced fine

Cook together on med to high heat, stirring regularly until some of the liquid has evaporated (about 1/2 hour). No need to evaporate ALL of the liquid as the canning process will 'gel' the sugar and peaches somewhat. If you really only like a chutney that is thick and well evaporated, by all means, do so but you will likely only get 3-4 jars from this recipe. Once reduced, pour into sterilized canning jars and water bath them for 35 minutes. They taste great right from the start but, after a few weeks, their flavor really blends together in the jar and it is awesome! Throw your meat/tofu/edamame beans or protein of choice into some and spread it on some rice and you have a one dish meal that is out of this world.

* Second note of interest - I am a glutton for tongue punishment so I always triple the garlic and ginger in mine. Of course, that would make a dinner date with this stuff problematic if your desired attendee is sensitive to garlic breath. Try chewing on some fennel seeds after your meal if this is the case - it will abolish the garlic smell and still allow you to revel in garlic heaven:)

To peel peaches without cursing:

This is a super easy process. Boil some water in a large sauce pot. Drop peaches in until the pot is nearly full but all the peaches can roll around comfortably. Boil for a few minutes - remove them and dramatically (or not but I like to have fun so I make a show of it) plunge them into some cold water in your sink. When you pull them out, the skins slip right off easy peasey. Then, cut them up and remove the pits and they are ready for the canning process:)