Serious Eats: Recipes

Zero Proof: Chili Peach Juice

[Photo: Christianne Winthrop]

Summer is officially in full swing at my local farmer's market: piles of peaches, plums, and apricots are everywhere. My small garden is also bearing fruit, and the pots are bursting with chili peppers. This time of year, pick one and two grow back in its place. Pico de gallo and fruit salsas are always an option, but the peppers are coming in fast and I need something that helps the pile-up.

Developing this recipe was, in a word, messy. I knew peaches and chilies were a near perfect match, and already decided that the mild heat of jalapeno was the right way to go. I thought I had it all figured out and was convinced that homemade, fresh juice was the only acceptable base. However, throwing fresh peaches through the juicer yielded little juice, and whizzing them in the food processor before pushing through a sieve resulted in a puree better suited for bellinis or smoothies. Both of these techniques also required simple syrup to sweeten up the homemade peach "juice"—another step and another pot to wash. Before long, I had a sink full of dishes and every kitchen surface from floor to ceiling was covered in peaches.

I opened a bottle of peach nectar. You can garnish the drink with fresh peaches if you wish.

Fresh lime juice is essential in this recipe as it brightens up the bottled juices, as does jalapeno and mint. This drink is best served immediately after shaking. Letting it sit for too long really amps up the heat and can make it taste more like blended salsa than the sweet and spicy juice it is. Finally, don't skip the sugared rim. If you're opposed to a full sugar rim, opt for half—as soon as the spice hits you, you'll be glad you did.

About the author: Christianne Winthrop is a freelance food writer, caterer and culinary instructor. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband Bob and their beta fish, Hercules.

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