September 03, 2011

Just Peachy: Homemade Peach Salsa

I can’t believe it’s already September. It’s the time of year that becomes measured by the retail count-down calendar. Back to school is barely over before Halloween candies and Thanksgiving turkeys creep into the grocery aisles. And when I hear that first Christmas carol on the radio, I know that snow and short dark days are not far behind.

But I know I'll forget all of that when I see what’s at the farmers’ market today. An embarrassment of tomato riches. Ripe peaches and plums. Early apples, mouth-puckering tart. Glorious corn. It’s when I wish we had a houseful of kids so that I can buy bushels of produce.

A year after I discovered the joys of canning and preserving, I’m itching to buy those bushels anyway and lock summer in a jar.  The sad truth is that I just don't have the time.  It’s the choices around time that are the hardest ones to make of all.  I’ve been away from home for far too long and too much these past three weeks to buy three bushels of tomatoes and lock myself in the kitchen making sauce.  Striking the balance between what feeds our soul and what feeds our relationships is a constant struggle.  So, right now, I'll spend my weekend reconnecting with my husband, my house and my life, satisfied in the knowledge that I managed to make the most of some gorgeous summer peaches three weeks ago.

Peach Salsa
makes about 8 8-oz jars

Although I have several cookbooks devoted to canning and preserving, my go-to is the Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving.  I use it more as a guide than a step by step, especially when it comes to sugar quantities.  This is my version of the Bernardin peach salsa, modified to let the peach flavour really shine.

½ c white vinegar
10 c peeled and chopped peaches
1 chopped red onion
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
¼ c chopped cilantro
2 tbsp honey
½ tbsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1.  Put all ingredients in a large non reactive pot and stir gently to combine. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and bring to a rolling simmer for five minutes, continuing to stir until the salsa is thickened slightly.

2.  Ladle hot salsa in prepared jars and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.  Remove jars from water, check for proper sealing, cool and store.*

Use this mildly piquant salsa with with pork, fish or grilled meats

*If you haven't canned before, refer back to my post on Italian Plum Jam, which includes a step-by-step pictorial and some great links to preserving websites