If you need one reason to can, peaches is it. Perfectly ripe and luscious peaches are as much a treat now as they are when I open a homemade can of peaches in the dark months (or next spring before the first seasonal fruit, strawberries, ripen in May).
They are not quite as perfect as a fresh juicy fragrant peach now… but not far. Not far. They will certainly taste better then almost any fruit you can buy in winter. Canned peaches are in effect poached peaches and if you can them au naturel like I do, you can use them for all kinds of preparations: naked, with yogurt, in smoothies, tarts, on top of your morning pancakes or waffles, mashed for a quick chunky sauce, mixed with other canned or dry fruit for a winter fruit salad, or puree as a base for ice-cream or sorbet.
Nonetheless, we do have – ahem! – quite a few jars of peaches canned already. And faced with the end of a bushel of ripe peaches I did not really feel like more “canning”. Call me lazy! Pickles, jams and chutneys only require 10 minutes in a boiling water-bath, in my smaller canner too since I use 8-oz smaller jars. Why not another condiment? This seems to be the year when I am experimenting with sweet/sour as I have made fennel agrodolce, tomates aigres douces, peach mostarda, peach barbecue sauce, pickled peaches and peach chutney using a recipe from Christine Ferber in Leçons de Confitures. Christine’s Summer Chutney uses peaches, dry apricots and poppy seeds. It was very pleasant and encouraged me to play some more and try my hands at making chutney with what I had available at the moment in the house.