We have a wild peach tree in the back yard, one that was here in the jungle in the furthest corner of the yard. It is only this year after clearing some of the wildness there that I took notice of it. It produces small, yellow-green fruit with a blush. They are cling-stone, sadly, and a tiny bit less sweet than the commonly available peaches. But it turns out that they are quite suitable for eating and cooking. Our first dish from them is a chutney relish made with barberries and lemon juice to add tartness.
Aromatic sweet laurel bay leaves bring out the warm taste in this sweet and spicy chutney. The pungent, lemony spicy undertones of ginger add another layer flavour.
Peach and Barberry Chutney
about 24 small ripe wild peaches or 6 larger peaches, stoned and sliced
2 Tblspn barberries, or use ¼ cup red currants for tartness
2 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 – 2 fresh red chillies, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 Tblspn sugar
3 large bay leaves (sweet laurel bay, or Indian or West Indian Bay Leaves can be used for variations of flavour)
finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 Tblspn white wine vinegar (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. If your peaches are not juicy (my wild peaches are not as juicy as larger peaches), add a little water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and a simmer gently for around 40 minutes, or until thick and jammy. Remove the bay leaves.
Place in a sterilised glass jar in the refrigerator. It will last 2 – 3 months.