Peachy kitchen alchemy
Updated: Aug 15, 2022
A gift of 5 pounds of ripe peaches came my way yesterday.
After spending some time last night reading through South African peach chutney recipes online, I decided it was time to make peach chutney. Consider the gauntlet thrown down, Mrs Balls!
The recipes I found varied hugely in terms of ingredients and methodology. Of course the original famous Mrs Balls recipe is secret.
I looked around my kitchen, pantry and garden and assembled the players.
In no specific order: 4 pounds peaches (the rest I’m eating fresh), 1 cup of dehydrated local apples, 1 cup of raisins, a few fresh serrano peppers from the garden, garlic, a bunch from my stash of skunk chewed onions (I do discard the skunk chewed bits), fresh chopped ginger, a couple of bay leaves, 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar (maybe too much and 1 cup will do) and a variety of spices including cardamom, cloves, coriander, allspice, star anise, cinnamon, mustard seeds, black pepper and nutmeg.
Work out your own proportions on spices (they are the secret ingredient after all) but hint: not too heavy handed. I buy whole spices and grind them fresh at time of use.
For this peach chutney, I was going for a fruity, elusively spicy and aromatic flavour. The serrano chile peppers, ginger and black pepper give a bit of heat, but not so much as to overwhelm the fruit sweetness. The vinegar tartness binds it all nicely. My end result was a little sloppy, so I’m thinking to maybe use less vinegar next time, as it was the only added liquid.
After chopping, slicing, dicing and a slow simmer for a few hours, I fished out the bay leaves and blended the mix to get 5 jars. One could leave it chunky but I like a smoother chutney which can double as a dipping sauce for veggie cakes or spring roll inspired wraps - one of my favourite ways to eat raw vegetables and tofu, if I can find spring roll wraps. Usually I have to make a 150 mile round trip for that particular culinary supply.
Now for around about three weeks wait while this chutney matures before the true taste test to see whether the 6th Avenue Shala kitchen in the Chihuahuan desert has the cojones to take on an institution like Mrs Balls. But maybe only a South African will understand exactly what that means.
It all began with peaches. For which I am truly grateful.