Friday, September 25, 2009

Peach Salsa

I had a day to myself with no outside commitments today. A couple of weeks ago, I'd changed my decor over to fall colors (my favorites), and have been slowly getting the summer stuff cleaned and stored away. The table linens and kitchen items I can wash at home, but the summer bed quilts are too big for my washing machine. It was going to be a beautiful warm day with little wind, so the first thing I did was gather up the quilts and blankets (and our sleeping bags too - after camping for a week at Tahoe I might as well) and headed to the other end of town to a laundromat that has big 50-pound front-loading washers.

The sleeping bags I dried there for a while - they fluff up better when tumble-dried. The attendant even offered me six tennis balls to put in with them - soaking up a bit more moisture, and pummeling the bag fillings to fluff them up even more. The blankets and quilts are all cotton, so I brought them home damp to dry out on the clothesline. I love the smell of sun-dried cotton bedding, and I'd rather not beat up my quilts any more than necessary.

So, once home and with everything hung outside to dry, it was time to finish up processing peaches and chiles. A few days ago, I'd had time to peel and chop the peaches. I've measured 2-pint increments in my enameled pot, and notched an old wooden spoon handle - fifteen pounds of peaches ended up being a little over 11 pints. I'd sprinkled the top layer with lime juice and put the whole thing into the refrigerator until I had time to make a batch of salsa. I'm probably not going to have enough tomatoes to make a tomato salsa this year - all I have will be canned as whole tomatoes and tomato sauce. So this peach salsa will be my only salsa.

I put the peaches on to start cooking them down a bit (using a flame-tamer over my gas burner), and 9 pint jars into a canner-ful of water to start heating up to sterilize. I checked the freezer - might as well clean out all peppers left from last year. I had a few chiles left, plus a couple of roasted and peeled bell peppers and some sliced jalapenos. Thawed and minced up, they made up almost a cup, so I'd only need another cup for the salsa. The rest of the chiles from this year's harvest could go into the freezer.

The chiles I'd roasted a couple of days ago had been stored in the bag in the refrigerator, so I put on some (latex surgical) gloves and started on them. The big straight chiles are easiest to clean. Each one I folded into a little "packet" and put on a cookie sheet to freeze. Afterwards, dumped into a freezer bag, it's easy to grab however much I want at a time. The littler chiles, and the curved ones that got mashed and broken while roasting, I added to the measuring cup to use right away.

Peach (or Nectarine) Salsa (makes 8-9 pints)
12 - 15 pounds peaches (or nectarines), peeled and chopped
2 cups onions, finely diced (I used red onions, for the color)
2 cups chiles or peppers, roasted, peeled and chopped, or seeded and minced if fresh
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 bunches cilantro, minced (makes about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons non-iodized salt
2 tablespoons sugar (optional, to taste)
up to 1 tablespoon hot pepper powder (optional, to taste)

lime juice

Simmer peaches, cooking down to about 9 pints. Add rest of ingredients, except for lime juice. Cook down to about 9 pints.

Put 1 tablespoon lime juice in each sterilized pint jar. Fill jars, to 1/4" headspace, seal. Process in boiling water bath 30 minutes (that's for my Carson City altitude, at 5,000 feet; process for 20 minutes if you're below 3,000, or add 5 more minutes for each 2,000 feet above 6,000).

A few additional notes: To make a milder or hotter salsa, do not change the amount of chile peppers, change the type. You can use all roasted and peeled bell peppers for a really mild salsa, or add some minced habaneros if you really want to to get crazy. I added a tablespoon of chipotle powder to this batch - it added a nice smoky complexity to the sweet and hot, but also darkened the color quite a bit. I also seeded and minced up some fresh jalapenos I'd just picked - just to add a bit more texture and color - enough to bring the amount up to two cups. One of these years, I'm thinking I'll just grind up the peaches without peeling them - might make it even more colorful.


Melynda said...

I love the "packet" folding for the chilies, great idea.

Barb J. said...

I've never had anything but a tomato-based salsa. What does peach salsa taste like? Is it sweet?

Sadge said...

Hi Barb: The salsa is a bit sweeter than tomato-based ones, but with the onions and garlic it's hot-sweet instead of dessert-sweet (think Suiriachi hot sauce). We eat quite a bit of it with corn chips, but it's also really good on chicken. Aries likes warming it up when he uses it; I eat it cold.