Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Peach Salsa

I love Trader Joe's. There isn't one around these parts, much to my sadness, but there is one quite near the home of my friend V. Whenever I visit her, we go there. Whenever we go there, I stock up on my favorite things, like Rosemary & Garlic Crackers, Cuban Black Beans, and Peach Salsa. Alas, last 2 times I went, there was no Peach Salsa to be had! V reports that it has since re-appeared, but I was spooked enough that, in order to ensure a continuous supply, I have set out to replicate what, in my book, is the Best. Salsa. Ever.
I have scoured the interwebs for peach salsa recipes, and read and re-read the back of my last jar of the good stuff for clues. Today I made my first attempt. It does not taste like Trader Joe's Peach Salsa, but it is really good. I think the basic recipe is right; what's missing are the mysterious herbs and spices that are probably unique to the TJ's brand. I know cumin is in there, but not what else. Anyway, what I made was tasty, so here's the recipe as it stands after one attempt. You could and probably should use all fresh tomatoes, but I didn't have enough, so I used part canned. Most of the recipes I used as source material called for cilantro, 1/4 to 1/2 cup, but I despise cilantro and so left it out. If you like cilantro, by all means add it back in.

Peach Salsa
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion,
2 large red, yellow, or orange sweet bell peppers
4 gloves garlic
4 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
5 large peaches, ripe but still very firm
4 largish roma-type tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes (plain, without Italian seasoning or other herbs)
1/3 C white vinegar (could substitute apple cider vinegar, probably would be an improvement)
2 Tbsp honey

Before beginning, prepare all your ingredients and place them ready in bowls near the stove:
Remove the seeds from the bell pepper(s), and dice into small pieces. Peel the onion and mince. Peel and mince the garlic, finely. Remove the 4 chipotle peppers from the adobo sauce, and slit them open. Rinse under running water to remove the seeds, which contain most of the heat (if you like really hot salsa, leave some or all of the seeds). Mince the chipotles very fine, almost making a paste.
Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Fill a large bowl 2/3 full of ice water. Use a slotted spoon to place the peaches into the boiling water, leave them 30-60 seconds, then quickly remove them to the bowl of ice water for several minutes. Use a paring knife to make an x-shaped pair of slits in the peach skins on their bottoms (opposite the stems), and use your fingers to peel away the skins, which should now come off easily.
To peel the fresh tomatoes, first make a small x-shaped cut just through the skins on the bottom end of each tomato, then treat like the peaches by placing first in the boiling water for 30 seconds, then removing to the ice water to quickly cool. The skins should then peel right off with little effort.
Slice the peaches in half, remove and discard the pits, then dice the peaches into half-inch pieces. Quarter the fresh tomatoes, then scoop out and discard the seed pulp, leaving only the flesh. Dice the tomatoes a little smaller than the peaches. Drain the juice from the canned tomatoes, dice them smaller if need be, and add them to the fresh tomatoes.
Measure out your spices and liquid ingredients.
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in the bottom of a very large pot or kettle. Add the bell peppers, onion, and garlic, and saute, stirring often, several minutes until softened and the onions turn clear. Add the chipotles and the spices and continue to saute and stir for a minute longer. Add the peaches, stir, and bring the pot to a boil. Add the tomatoes and the remaining ingredients, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring often.
To taste for seasoning, dish out a small sample into a small bowl or cup and allow to cool briefly, then taste with a tortilla chip. Adjust the flavors according to your taste. If you are not planning to can the batch, cool it completely and store in sealed containers in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. I didn't try freezing yet, but I'd bet that the salsa could be frozen with minimal loss of quality.
Or, to preserve for up to a year, can the batch of salsa while still hot in sterile canning jars, using the water-bath canning method and carefully observing all the sanitary rules for home-canning. (This salsa recipe is a high-acid food, so pressure-canning is not necessary, and would only over-cook the salsa). Store jars of canned salsa in a cool, dry place away from direct light.

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