I decided to lessen my peach preserving load, and split my efforts into two parts. One half bushel is destined for salsa and peach rum sauce and some frozen slices this week. Next week, I have a canning date with friends, and plan to turn another half bushel into honeyed and spiced peaches, as well as some more frozen peaches. This way, I won’t get as overwhelmed, plus we’ll have fresh peaches for eating two weeks in a row, without having to buy any extra.
After picking up my half bushel of peaches on Tuesday, I came home to start preserving. I pushed my canned cherries and strawberries to the side (er, I should really put those in the basement inventory and take them downstairs) and began weighing out my peaches – 5 pounds for salsa, 3 1/2 pounds for “pirate” peaches, 3 pounds for freezing, to start.
As I went through the motions of peeling, pitting and dicing my peaches, I thought about how long it has been since I’ve spent an entire afternoon in the kitchen by myself. A storm was headed our way, so I had the kitchen windows pushed all the way open to welcome the cool breeze, in that grey it-is-about-to-downpour way. I found myself calmed by the process of dropping peaches in boiling water, then dunking them in an ice bath so that I could peel off the skins. With podcasts playing through my headphones, I focused on cutting first the peaches, then the onion and peppers, into tiny, even pieces.
The whole afternoon felt almost like an indulgence, spending so much time putting up fruit on a Tuesday afternoon, even though I knew I’d be making up for it, work-wise, on the evenings and weekend. Except at the end of this “indulgence,” I had five pint jars of peach salsa, four half-pints of peach rum sauce, two cookie trays of frozen peach slices, and five cups of peach pit juice to be made into jelly in the future.
Today, I’m tackling the rest of the half-bushel. I’ll freeze most of it, but I’m also planning on making another batch of peach salsa. We can already tell we’re going to go through the first 5 pints way too quickly.
This salsa is great with tortilla chips, or spooned over chicken, pork or fish.
Slightly adapted from Liana Krissoff's Canning for a New Generation.
- 5 pounds peaches
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 6 ounces yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 ounces red bell pepper, diced
- 2 tablespoons poblano peppers, diced
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, and fill a large bowl with ice water. Drop a few peaches into the boiling water for about 1 minute, then transfer them to the ice bath using a slotted spoon. When they are cool enough to handle, gently remove the peels from the peaches. If you don't get all of the peel because it is still clinging to the flesh of the peach, don't worry about it; just get as much as you can. Repeat with the remaining peaches.
- Prepare for canning. Wash the jars and flat lids with hot, soapy water. Put the jars in the canning pot and fill the pot with hot water. Heat over medium-high heat to keep the jars hot. Place the lids in a heat-proof bowl.
- Pit and dice the peeled peaches.
- Gently stir all of the ingredients, minus the cilantro, together in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 6-8 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.
- Move some of the boiling water from the canning pot into the heat-proof bowl containing the lids. Line the hot jars up on a folded towel, then pour the water out of the heat-proof bowl and off the lids.
- Fill the jars with salsa up to 1/4” below the rim.
- Use a clean towel to wipe any salsa off the rims, then top each jar with a lid and a tightened ring. Place the jars back in the canning pot and make sure they are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Place the jars on a folded towel and allow to sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check the seals of the lids after 1 hour. If a seal has not formed, refrigerate the jar immediately.