One of my all-time favourite summer fruits is peaches. I can never get enough of them when peach season rolls around. Their fuzzy skin blushed red. Their fragrant smell. Sweet flesh. Juices dripping down your chin and arm.
Lucky enough, we have wonderful local peaches that grow near and in the Niagara region. I made the trek out to Cherry Avenue Farms a few days ago to pick my own—you'll get a cheaper price for picking your own, and it makes you appreciate your food that much more when you put a little work into it yourself.
If you've never been peach picking, it's a fun activity to do with the whole family. Unlike plum, apricot, or apple trees, peach trees are much smaller and lower to the ground, making it friendly for young children.
We eventually brought home 37 lbs of peaches and that meant putting them to use. Aside from making a bit of peach jam and eating lots of them, I came across a recipe for peach salsa which piqued my interest.
This peach salsa is a nice change from the savoury tomato version, with its sweet tartness. I served the fresh peach salsa, still warm, with some lovely pan-seared Ontario pork chops, olive oil-smashed purple potatoes and a summer vegetable succotash. The salsa would also be great with grilled chicken or fish. Bottle up the rest of the salsa and you can have the taste of summer to last you the winter! (If using the salsa with chips, it tastes much better after a day it's made to deepen the flavours.)
From Put 'em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton
Makes about 6 cups
3 pounds slightly underripe peaches
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon salt
1 lb tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Prepare an ice-water bath in a large bowl or clean sink.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Working in batches of 2 peaches at a time, blanch the fruit in the boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen the skins.
Scoop the peaches out of the water and plunge them into the ice-water bath. Repeat with the remaining peaches. Drain.
Combine the vinegar, brown sugar, cumin, and salt in a large nonreactive pot. Using a small paring knife, peel, pit, and dice the peaches, adding them to the pot as you go to prevent browning. Add the tomatoes, bell pepper, jalapeno, and onion, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Add the cilantro and remove from the heat.