All the Singleton ladies make this chutney. It’s a popular one all right, there were several copies of this in The Recipe Box. Both Nana and my Auntie Jill have entered it into the Alameda County Fair and won prizes–yep, it’s that good. Maybe that’s where I get my competitive streak? Did I tell you that Boppa and his neighbor and good buddy Al Lepore used to make wine together in the back yard and enter it into the fair? They did. They made several different varietals over the years but the batches were always the same–they would just bottle it then slap their own labels (‘Singleton Cellars’ and ‘Chateau Lepore’). The funny part is that one would always get a blue and the other would get a red or white ribbon. Other years it would be the other way around. Even though it was the same exact wine. I still get a good laugh when I think about that.
Back to chutney. Auntie Jill prefers hers with nectarines–she said she likes the tartness that nectarines have. But I stuck with Nana’s original recipe and used peaches. Also I scored a huge 8-pound sack of peaches for $3 at the farmer’s market. QUICK TIP: If you are canning or need large quantities of fruits or vegetables for anything, try to go to your farmer’s market right before it closes, preferably on a Sunday. There are some good deals to be found because the farmer’s want to sell it all and not lug it home.
One nice thing about this chutney is that it’s pretty uncomplicated, flavor-wise. The peaches (or nectarines) really shine. Not a lot of spices to contend with. It’s good on any variety of meats and it makes a pretty spectacular ham glaze.
The first thing you have to plan for is brining the peaches. Which is actually cool, because you can do it after work on Thursday or Friday and they will be ready to cook on Saturday. You can leave them in the brine for 24-36 hours. Just peel and slice the peaches and soak them in a saltwater solution.
After the brining is done, drain the peaches and cook the syrup, bringing it to a boil. Add peaches and cook for 15-20 minutes or until as Nana puts it, “peaches are clear”. I didn’t really know what the hell that meant so after about 15 minutes, the edges of the peaches became sort of translucent-ish so I figured that was it.
This part is a bit of a pain, but you either have to drain the peaches (reserving the syrup), or just scoop them out, letting the syrup stay in the pan. I used this big spider-type utensil that I got at a garage sale. Just set the peaches aside while you do the rest.
The next step is fun–you get to put all the ingredients in! Nana calls for both golden raisins and dark raisins. Which is great. But I wasn’t at a store that had hippie bulk bins with raisins (I’m talking to you, Safeway), and the boxes of raisins were really expensive. But I did find that SunMaid has a “mixed raisin” package–which had golden, dark and a reddish raisin. Perfect. So, the moral of the story is that I only had to buy one bag instead of two. Yay for saving money!
Alrighty. Raisins, check. Candied ginger, check. Onions, check. Powdered ginger, chile powder and lime juice, check.
Nana says that you simmer this concoction until the onions are soft and the mixture is thick. I found that it took more like 1-1/2 hours of cooking to be a chutney-like thickness. Just keep simmering it, stirring occasionally–but keep an eye on it! Burnt chutney is NO GOOD. I’ve done that and I don’t recommend it.
So, meanwhile, you’ve prepped jars and all that, right? You don’t have to can it, you can just give it away if you wish. But I canned it. Water-bath method, for 10 minutes boiling. Turn off the heat, take off the lid and let sit another 5 minutes.
And if you’re wondering…HELL YES I am entering these in next year’s fair.