I confess that, yes, I've been obsessed with peaches as of late. This summer fruit has been used quite often in my kitchen these past few months and featured in more than a few recipes (e.g.: my summer Caprese salad with peaches, watermelon, tomatoes and mozzarella). This past week, I had a few more peaches on hand, on the edge of being overripe, so I decided to cook them in something as opposed to using them raw (seeing as they were already a little mushy). I spied an extra jalapeño in my crisper drawer and a small knob of fresh ginger and — a-ha! — the recipe idea was born: peach and jalapeño chutney.
Chutney is a sweet, sour, savory and tangy cooked concoction that makes for a flavor-packed condiment alongside a curry or as a topping for bread, cheese, chicken and pork, and it can even be used as a marinade. It is most often seen as an Indian creation, but it's also used in the Caribbean and South America as a condiment for proteins like pork and fish. Don't get chutney confused with relish, though — chutneys tend to be more on the savory side, while relishes lean more to the sweet. Chutneys are also chunkier and spreadably smooth, where relishes are typically uncooked and therefore more crunchy.
Chutney's base is usually some form of fruit — mangoes, peaches, apricots, bananas, tomatoes, etc. — that is simmered with vinegar, sugar and spices like allspice, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg or even mustard seeds. A kick of heat can be added with red pepper flakes, spicy chilies or cayenne if desired.
This peach and jalapeño chutney is a great way to use up those extra, end-of-the-season peaches. It makes a perfect pairing with brie, goat cheese, mild cheddar or cream cheese on crackers, crostini, toast or bagels. I used it atop a warm, melted brie and toasted crostini appetizer, topped with a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves. It's a breeze to make and only a saucepan and a wooden spoon are needed. Be sure to use nonreactive cookware when preparing it, staying away from copper, iron and brass pots or spoons.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
2-3 large ripe peaches
1 cup diced sweet onion
2 teaspoons neutral-flavored cooking oil (canola, grapeseed, sunflower, etc.)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons minced or grated fresh ginger (or 2 teaspoons ground ginger)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
A pinch of ground allspice
A pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Peel the peaches and halve them, removing the pits. Roughly chop the peach halves into chunks and set aside. Cut off the top of the jalapeño, slice in half lengthwise and remove the ribs and seeds (but save some of the seeds if you want the chutney to be a little spicy) before finely mincing it.
Heat a medium-sized sauce pot over medium heat and add in the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and jalapeño to the pot and stir to coat with the oil. Saute the onion until soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, ginger, thyme, allspice and cloves. Saute for another minute, then lower the heat a little and stir in the sugar and vinegar, stirring until the sugar has melted.
Add in the peaches and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and put a lid on the pot and cook for 5-10 minutes, allowing the peaches to soften.