Savory and Sweet Uses of Peaches


Indian blood (right) and O’Henry peaches from the farmers market in Santa Monica, Calif., Sept. 14, 2005

There are a million and one ways to make peach salsa. All you need are diced ripe but firm peaches, peeled or unpeeled; diced bell peppers and/or onion; an acidic liquid of some sort, either fruit juice or vinegar; and, if you don’t want to stop there, a handful of some other pungent or flavorful ingredient, from the spicy (chipotles, for instance) to the sweet (such as honey). Proportions of peaches to other ingredients can vary about as widely as the array of ingredients that can go into the mixture, all of which suggests that there’s hardly any point in following a recipe. Just start chopping and mixing, and when the salsa looks and tastes about right, let it sit for at least an hour or so to allow the juices and flavors to blend, and eat. Here are six variations on peach salsa, with instructions applicable to all at the bottom of the ingredient lists. You could mix and match ingredients from any of these recipes to create a variant of your own.

Basic Peach Salsa [top]

2 ripe, but firm medium peaches
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
½ cup diced red and/or green bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon (or to taste) minced jalapeno pepper
½ teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Peach-Cucumber Salsa [top]

2 cups diced peaches (about 1 ½ pounds)
1 cup diced unpeeled English hothouse cucumber
¾ cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 teaspoon chopped canned chipotle chiles

Peach-Tomato Salsa [top]

3 firm peaches (about 1 lb.)
1 tablespoons. lemon juice
2 ripe tomatoes (about ½ lb.)
6 large green onions
1 tablespoons canned jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, coarsely chopped
12 tablespoons good quality olive oil
6 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons honey

Peach-Mint Salsa [top]

2 ripe peaches, diced
1 small red pepper; chopped
½ red onion; chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper; minced
1/3 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint

Peach-Ginger Salsa [top]

1 cup diced peaches (about 2)
1 cup cubed seeded tomato (about 3)
¼ cup sliced green onions
2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 dash of fresh ground pepper


1. Cut the peaches into half-inch cubes, sweet peppers into somewhat smaller dice, chop any cilantro, finely chop any onions and mince any especially pungent ingredients, such as jalapenos, chipotles or ginger.

2. Blend any oils and fruit juices or vinegars together before combining with other ingredients.

3. If you care to peel your peaches and/or tomatoes (a step that is not at all necessary), plunging them into boiling water for 15 or 20 seconds will make it easier to slip the skins off.

4. You should let the salsa sit for at least five minutes before tasting to see if you need to adjust the seasoning, for example by adding more lime juice, vinegar, cilantro, jalapeno or salt. You should prepare the salsa at least an hour, or as much as day or two, before serving, to allow the flavors to fully meld.

Grilled Corn and Peach Salsa [top]

Pan-grilled corn with chile
4 or 5 scallions, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch lengths
4 ripe peaches, pitted and chopped, with their juices
½ large red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger<
¼ cup chopped Thai or other basil, or mint leaves, or a combination
Fresh squeezed lime juice to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. While corn is still in skillet, but with heat off, stir in scallions and let sit for a minute, stirring occasionally. Remove to a bowl and combine with remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve within an hour.

Peach Chutney [top]

(makes 6 pints )

3 ½ pounds firm peaches, diced
1 ½ cups seedless golden raisins
1 large onion, minced
1 yellow pepper, diced
2 hot red peppers, diced (remove seeds)
½ cup crystallized ginger, chopped
½ cup pecans, very coarsely chopped
2 cups cider vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon mace

1. Mix all the ingredients except the nuts in a heavy saucepan.

2. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

3. Turn heat to a simmer and cook until the chutney is thick enough to mound on a spoon.

4. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the nuts.

5. Ladle into hot canning jars leaving ½-inch headspace. Seal. Process in a simmering hot water-bath for 10 minutes.

6. If you prefer, the chutney may be portioned in suitable containers and frozen.

Southern Pickled Peaches [top]

(makes 6 pints )

4 quarts small peaches
6 cinnamon sticks (about 3” pieces), one for each jar
8 cups sugar (4 cups white and 4 cups brown or all brown)*
1 quart vinegar
Whole cloves

*Less sugar may be used for a more tart pickle.

1. Dip freestone peaches into boiling water to loosen skins. Clings must be peeled.

2. Stick each peach with 2 to 4 cloves.

3. Boil the sugar and vinegar together for 2 minutes.

4. Put half the fruit into syrup and boil gently until tender. Put remaining half of fruit into syrup and boil until tender.

5. If you do not want to can the pickled peaches, they will last in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks. To can them, pack the peaches and cinnamon sticks into hot canning jars. Seal. Process in a simmering hot water-bath for 10 minutes.

Peach Vinegar [top]

(makes 1 quart )

1 pound peaches
1 quart vinegar (at least 5 percent acidity)
2 to 6 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
Spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice or herbs, such as mint, tarragon or thyme are optional

1. Chop, crush or grind the peaches.

2. Combine the fruit, vinegar, sugar and spices or herbs in a saucepan (not aluminum) and heat to the simmering point–about 170 to 180 F. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

3. Remove the pan from the heat, cover it, and allow the vinegar to cool.

4. Transfer the peach-vinegar mixture to a sanitized storage container (not aluminum). Cover and store in a cool, dark place for about 2 weeks.

5. Taste the vinegar and when it reaches the intensity you desire, strain it through a fine sieve or double thickness of cheesecloth into hot, sanitized bottles.

Note: Peach vinegar may be stored at room temperature for 3 to 4 months, but refrigerator storage is recommended to retain its fresh flavor and bright color.

Fresh Peach Freezer Jam [top]

(makes four 1 cup containers )

2 cups peaches, peeled and thinly sliced.
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cups sugar
1 pkg. (1 ¾ oz.) powdered pectin
¾ cup water

1. Mix the peaches and sugar thoroughly. Set aside for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Store powdered pectin and water together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

3. Boil for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat.

4. Stir the pectin mixture into the peach mixture. Continue stirring 3 minutes. Pour in plastic or glass containers leaving 1” headspace for expansion. Cover. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours.

5. Store the jam in the freezer.

Brandied Peaches [top]

(makes 4-5 half-pints )

6 to 8 pounds firm peaches
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 cup water
1 ½ cups brandy

1. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan,bring to a boil, and cook until sugar dissolves; keep the syrup hot.

2. Dip the peaches into scalding water for ½ to 1 minute to loosen skin; immediately plunge into cold water. Peel, halve, and remove pits and treatfruit to prevent darkening.

3. Drain the peaches and pack firmly into hot jars, cavity sides down.

Pour in about ¼ cup hot sugar syrup. Pour 3 to 4 tablespoons of brandy over fruit. Add enough syrup to fill the jars to within ½” of top.

4. Seal. Process in a simmering hot water-bath for 25 minutes.

Source: University of California Cooperative Extension Master Food Preserver Program

Peach Mustard [top]

½ cup dry mustard (Coleman’s)
2 T water
2 cups pureed peaches
1 cup vinegar (white wine or cider)
½ cup minced onion
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
½ tsp. Turmeric
2 T minced pineapple sage (optional)

1. Sift mustard. Combine with water, let sit.

2. Sift sugar and flour together. Add slowly to pureed peaches. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook for two minutes.

3. Whisk (do not stir) ½ cup hot mixture into mustard until smooth.

5. Repeat, using ¼ cup hot mixture each time until all is blended.
Cool and refrigerate. Will keep for several weeks

Variation: Add ½ to 1 teaspoon curry powder.

Source: Adapted by Mary Jane Loper from a recipe distributed by the California Tree Fruit Agreement.

 Dead Ripe Fruit Vinaigrette [top]

About ½ cup very ripe fruit: strawberries, blackberries, peaches, apricots, nectarines or tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of fresh herbs to taste

1. In a food processor or blender, puree the fruit and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, seasoning with salt, pepper and herbs.