Perfectly ripe, raw peaches eaten over the sink, juice dripping down my arm—it's probably my favorite activity of summer. I prefer the fruit in this ideal state, but I'll eat peaches in just about any form throughout their glorious season. Once the summer is over, though, I usually stop with the peach frenzy for fear of encountering stringy, mushy, or bland fruit. Now that I've got my hands on Southern Living's Little Jars, Big Flavors—a book with plenty of recipes for peach preserves—I'll be able to enjoy peaches all the way through the colder months, too.
This fiery peach salsa, peppered with minced habañero, jalapeño, red onion, and cilantro, is a perfect example. It is made with rock-hard underripe fruit to withstand the canning process; by the time the jars are opened, the crunchy peach chunks have submitted to the spicy brine, turning soft and absorbing the multitudinous flavors in the jar.
Why I picked this recipe: Fresh, homemade peach salsa preserved for eating during sad, peach-less months? Yes, please.
What worked: Overall, this was an excellent fruit salsa with plenty of spice from the peppers.
What didn't: I thought the final result was a tad on the sweet side. Next time, I may drop the sugar back a bit and maybe even increase the lime juice. The cilantro turns a bit murky in the jar and doesn't add too much of its grassy flavor. Next time, I'll just stir in chopped fresh herbs when serving.
Suggested tweaks: If you want a spicier salsa, leave the seeds in the jalapeño and/or habañero.
Check out this primer on boiling-water canning.
Reprinted with permission from Little Jars, Big Flavors: Small-batch jams, jellies, pickles, and preserves from the South's most trusted kitchen by the Editors of Southern Living Magazine and Virginia Willis. Copyright 2013. Published by Oxmoor House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 6 cups peeled, diced hard, underripe peaches
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1 cup cider vinegar (5% acidity)
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup bottled lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped (2 tablespoons)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)
- 1 habanero pepper, seeded and minced (1 tablespoon)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Sterilize jars, and prepare lids.
While jars are boiling, combine all ingredients, except cilantro, in an 8-quart. stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven. Add 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.
Fill, seal, and process jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace and processing 10 minutes.
Remove jars from water, and let stand, undisturbed, at room temperature 24 hours. To check seals, remove the bands, and press down on the center of each lid. If the lid doesn’t move, the jar is sealed. If the lid depresses and pops up again, the jar is not sealed. Store properly sealed jars in a cool, dark place up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.