Nectarine salsa, thanks Washington state

The Washington State Fruit Commission asked me to be a Canbassador again this year. Last year I made all sorts of stone-fruity delicious things. A chance to put up Washington stonefruits (a season that’s long over where I live in Texas and on the way out even in Washington), heck yes! 

The WA fruit commission also runs a site called Sweet Preservation to help folks learn to can, print cute, free jar labels and judge how to pick fruit (among other neat things). 

This year I received a shipment of organic peaches and nectarines, which both happen to be high up on the must-buy-organic list. Both peaches and nectarines have a thin skin, and even washing and peeling doesn’t reduce the amount of pesticide residues found in the fruits; for peaches it was 62 pesticide residues and nectarines were half that but still high with 33 pesticide residues found on the fruit by the USDA. Nectarines from other countries were very high in pesticide residues according to the Daily Green, but thankfully domestic nectarines tested lower. This MSNBC feature discusses how pesticides are absorbed in the various must-buy organic fruits and veggies and how to cut your risk.

I was shocked to find in the EWG’s methodology for the 2012 Dirty Dozen list that “Nearly all the studies on which the guide is based tested produce after it had been washed or peeled.” I’ve grown a little lax in my organic vigilance, assuming a good scrub will suffice for any non-organics that cross my path. This publication reminds me that knowing where your fruit came from and what they did or didn’t spray on it is imperative.

When my little organic, northwestern bounty arrived, I’d planned to do another batch of peach jam, since I didn’t end up with any for the pantry this year. Alas a wayward cobbler happened thanks to the recipe in Lisa Fain’s book Homesick Texan. (I subbed the 1 cup flour for a gluten-free flour combo with great results!) She really does mean a large skillet, by the way.

And then there were nectarines, still staring at me in the crisper drawer. I’m out of canning energy this month as our wedding is coming up this weekend. I needed a project that was a one-shot, single step, not my normally preferred two-day project (spread out the work). I love how you don’t have to peel nectarines (especially organics!), and for this reason I opted for salsa; I followed and modified Sherri Brooks Vinton’s Peach Salsa recipe in her book Put ‘Em Up.

Nectarine Salsa

makes about 2-1/2 pints 

1. Combine the following in a large saucepan:

  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin (OMG, so worth pulling out the mortar and pestle)
  • 1/2 Tbs salt

Turn heat on low to dissolve sugar and remove from heat.

2. Pit and chop 1-1/2 lbs nectarines and add directly to the pot as you go.

3. Add to the pot a few small tomatoes or 1 large tomato, cored and chopped. I used small orange ones from our garden, whatever you have on hand will do.

4. Dice the following and add it all to the pot:

  • 1 small sweet or mild pepper
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded if you want to kick some of the heat
  • a half of a red onion

5. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until it thickens slightly and the nectarines are mushy. Mince a few sprigs cilantro and add to the pot just as you finish cooking the salsa.

Put in jars and store in the fridge, where it will keep for up to 3 months. Or seal it in a waterbath canner, using 1/2-inch headspace and processing 8-oz jars for 15 minutes.

Enjoy this salsa straight-up, in salads or over fish or pork dishes. Or go wild and pour it over some goat cheese and serve with crackers at your next party; you won’t be sad you did.