Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer's Obsession

It seems that every summer I get stuck on a preserving method. First it was pickles then I started desiccating in salt and sugar. And, last summer, I was all about the tincture. I still have some basil, sorrel and lavender tincture in the kitchen. Now, of course I will put up some the above, as a matter of fact, I already have pickled jalapeno peppers and green tomatoes.

This year I am fascinated by the concept of achar…an Indian style of pickling that is big on spices and salt, and requires hours sitting in the hot sun. Since I am spending my summer in Atlanta I am offered a more intense, concentrated heat that my north-facing apartment in New York City affords me. Mushrooms have a better chance of sprouting then any sun-dried tomato would ever have there. This will not be my first time at making an achar. Years ago when I lived in Los Angeles I made a lime achar – I was in southern California and citrus was everywhere. It was a traditional application but it was my first.
Being in Georgia my mind immediately drifted towards the state’s iconic symbol…peaches. I am very familiar with mango achar, so why not a peach? The season for peaches started a few weeks ago here and has not quite peaked, so getting under-ripe ones was not an issue. I felt that if I used ripe peaches they would breakdown too much in during the process, and I am hoping for some chunks to remain behind.

At the farmer’s market this past week I secured my green subjects, and now all there is to do is baby sit them a bit – they require a daily shaking to help distribute the salt, spices and liquid that collects on the bottom -- otherwise, it is a wait and see. There is a roasted pork, steamed snapper and bowl of rice hoping to be accompanied by this southern achar.

Peach Achar – yields approx. 1-quart
4-pounds under-ripe peaches
2-inch piece peeled ginger
1-ounce fresh turmeric – peeled
1-teaspoon fenugreek
1/2-teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3-Thai green chilies
10-whole cloves
12-whole cardamom
3-tablespoons sesame oil
1/2-cup kosher salt
1/2-cup coconut or white distilled vinegar
Wash the peaches and then cut the peaches in quarters and discard the pit. Then cut each quarter in half and place in a 4-quart clean glass or ceramic jar.

In a mortar grind the ginger, turmeric, fenugreek, peppercorns, chilies, cloves, cardamom and 1/2-cup of salt to a rough paste.

In a 6-inch sauté pan heat the sesame oil over a medium heat, and add the ginger paste. Cook the paste for about 3 to 4 minutes until aromatic.

Carefully pour the paste into the jar with the peaches. Add the vinegar and remaining 1/4-cup of salt. Secure the lid tightly, and give the jar a good shake.

Place the jar in a spot where the sun will shine upon it for at least 6 to 8 hours a day. Shake the jar daily, for 3 to 4 weeks.

Store after that in the refrigerator.


Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to trying some of this. But 6-8 weeks is a long time to wait. Joni

United Taste said...

Patience is the reward!

Steven and Kate said...

Welcome to the Peach State. If you venture up to Athens (a/b 90 miles NE of ATL) let me know.