When summer hands you a harvest of ripe, juicy peaches, preserve that bounty in this fantastic Peach Salsa - it's a hit of sweet, spicy, smoky deliciousness that will have your taste buds hopping. What a fantastic treat to open a jar of this in the depth of winter, to bring back the taste of summer.
Beautiful, ripe, luscious peaches - no fruit embodies summer more. When you can find a source of these heavy, juicy, tree-ripened golden fruits, you have found a little taste of heaven. All those times of trying (yet again) to buy peaches in the off-season, only to be disappointed by tasteless woody flesh, are forgotten as you bite into a sweet juicy summer-ripe fruit; a peach as peachy as it is intended to be.
We picked up two cases of fantastic, perfect B.C. peaches and have been eating ourselves into glorious peach comas. I needed to confiscate one of the boxes just so I could make a couple batches of this addictively delicious peach salsa and another of our favourite chutney.
If you're a regular salsa lover, I think you'll really enjoy this fruity version. It hits all the right notes: delightfully tangy, slightly smoky, with a good spicy kick and a gentle natural sweetness from the peaches. It's great, of course, for dipping with tortilla chips and wherever else you might use a tomato salsa (I'm looking at you, tacos!), but you haven't lived until you've dolloped peach salsa onto grilled chicken, fish, or pork chops, or topped a burger with it. Or try stirring a spoonful into a bowl of tomato soup, a bean salad, or serve it with fried or scrambled eggs. Heavenly.
Making salsa to preserve for the winter requires a bit of time, but I consider it my therapy. There's something oddly calming and satisfying about chopping and dicing all the ingredients by hand. It is a morning well spent. I put on some of my favourite music and get myself into the zone. The reward at the end is seeing all those beautiful jars lined up, glowing like jewels. A treasure to be enjoyed all winter (as long as I hide some of those jars away so they can make it that long).
This salsa involves simmering the base, and then you just stir in the diced peaches raw before filling the jars so they stay intact and golden without cooking down to a mush. The processing time cooks the peaches inside the jars, and you end up with a beautifully textured salsa that retains all that fresh peachiness.
It tastes as good as it looks, believe me! Let's dig in.
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Canned Peach Salsa
- 10 large ripe peaches ~4 lbs/1.8kg (8 cups peeled, pitted, and finely diced)
- ¾ cup (180ml) lime juice, fresh (6-7 limes) or bottled, divided
- 5 large fresh tomatoes ~2½ lbs/1.15kg (4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped)
- 2 large orange or yellow sweet bell peppers, or one of each, ~2½ cups finely diced
- 2 medium onions, finely diced ~2 cups
- 2 large jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely diced ~½ cup
- 6 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoons
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes/chili flakes/crushed red pepper
- 1½ tablespoons (4½ teaspoons) smoked paprika (mild)
- 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- ¾ cup (180ml) white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl filled with ice cold water. Once the water is boiling, drop in half the peaches and let them boil for 60 seconds, then remove them with a slotted spoon right into the cold water. Blanch the rest of the peaches the same way. Don't discard the water.
- After a short cool-down in the cold water, you can easily slip the skins off the peaches with your hands. Cut the peaches in half around the pit, twist the two halves in opposite directions to separate them, then remove the pit. Slice the peaches thinly, then dice them into small bits about as big as corn kernels. Toss them with ½ cup (120ml) of the lime juice as you cut them, and set them aside. (The lime juice prevents browning and adds flavour.)
- Blanch the tomatoes in the same water: reheat the water, cut an X into the bottom of each tomato (to allow the skins to expand and loosen), then drop them into the boiling water and let them boil for 60 seconds. Remove them, drop them into the cold water, and then peel off the outer skins and cut out the cores. Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally (around their equators), then use your finger to scoop out and discard the juices and seeds from each section. Set the tomato halves, cut side down, onto a plate to drain, then chop them coarsely.
- Prepare the rest of the vegetables: Core and seed the bell peppers and finely dice them. Finely dice the onions. Core and seed the jalapeños and finely dice them. Mince the garlic.
- Place all the chopped vegetables except the peaches into a large heavy-bottomed pot.
- Add the cumin, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, salt, vinegar, and remaining ¼ cup (60ml) of the lime juice. Bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook it at a low boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching, until some of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is slightly thickened.
- Remove the pot from the heat.
- Stir the cornstarch into the chopped peaches, then add the peaches to the cooked vegetable ingredients, stirring well to combine everything. (Don't cook it again, so the peaches stay fresh and chunky - they will cook as the jars are processed.)
- Ladle the peach salsa into sterilized pint (500ml) canning jars, filling them to within ½ inch (1cm) of the top. Run a butter knife down the sides to release any trapped air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth, top with the hot, sterilized snap lids, screw on the lid rings so they are finger tight (only as tight as you can get them using just your thumb and index finger).
- Then process the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes (10 minutes if you use smaller half pint/250ml jars).
How to Process Jars for Canning
- Set the jars into a canner with a rack or into a large deep stock pot with a clean dishcloth laid flat in the bottom. Put in only as many jars as will fit easily. You may need to do several batches. Pour hot water into the pot until it covers the jars by about 1 inch (2.5cm). Bring to a boil. Cover the pot, and turn the heat down a bit so the jars continue to boil vigorously but don’t boil over. Start timing and boil them for 15 minutes. Then remove the jars with canning tongs and set them onto a towel on the counter. (The towel prevents the temperature shock that come from hot jars set onto a cold counter.) Don’t disturb them until they are completely cool. Check the seals: if the jar lids have been sucked down so they don’t move when you press a finger into the center of them, the jars are sealed. If the lids are still slightly bulged upward and you can move them up and down when you press with a finger, they didn’t seal and should be stored in the fridge to use up within the next month or two.
- Tighten the rings on the sealed jars and store them in a cool dark place for up to several years.
- Leave the jars for at least one week for the flavours to fully develop, before consuming.
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