Celebrating the end of summer has never been more delicious. Grab some local, Northern Michigan peaches from a roadside stand or the nearest farmer’s market.

While seasonal crowds may be starting to slow down, summer isn’t over just yet—and there are peaches to prove it. The last stone fruit to ripen in our area, peaches can be found at roadside stands and farmers markets throughout Northern Michigan right now. There is nothing better than sinking your teeth into a Benzie County peach that’s so ripe the juice drips down your chin. But did you know that there is also a great use for their firmer under-ripe siblings? That’s right, even peaches that were picked too soon or are otherwise still firm can be put to good use in the kitchen by making chutney.

Chutney, the British spelling for the Hindi word chațnī, has been an important condiment in Indian cuisine for generations. Recipes for a variety of chutneys can be found at Indian restaurants throughout Northern Michigan. For example, don’t skip Rosie Chugh’s tamarind chutney next time you grab dinner from NJ’s Grocery in Lake Leelanau or the mint and mango chutneys from Yavraj Basel’s Aamchi Mumbai in Petoskey.

Peach Chutney from September's Issue

Photo by Tim Hussey

Just as mango chutney like that served at Aamchi Mumbai is often made with green mangos, making the beloved condiment with firm peaches is equally rewarding. In this recipe, we marry peaches from the shores of Lake Michigan with flavors from afar—like cardamom, ginger and a noticeable but not overwhelming kick of heat. Don’t relegate this Indian-inspired sauce only to plates of naan and dal alone. While it is the perfect pop of flavor for either, it is equally good draped over a pork chop, used to top a kielbasa or featured on a cheese platter. However you take it, act fast to put some by and make these fleeting weeks of summer last just a wee bit longer.

Peach Chutney
Makes 2 1⁄2 cups

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1⁄2 lbs. still-firm peaches, peeled (about 6 peaches)
  • 1 small, 1-inch knob of ginger—about the size of two thumbnails—peeled and grated scant
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne
  • freshly ground seeds from 6 cardamom pods
  • juice from 1⁄2 lemon, seeds discarded
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 leaves fresh mint, julienned
Peach chutney on a cutting board with pistachios.

Photo by Tim Hussey

1. Cut the flesh away from the pits of peeled peaches and chop into a small dice.

2. Add water and sugar to a saucepan and warm over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the peaches, ginger and cayenne to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring from time to time to prevent the bubbling mixture from sticking.

3. Once the excess liquid is gone and the mixture is thickening and sticky—about 30 minutes—reduce to low heat and add the cardamom, lemon juice and salt and stir to combine, cooking an additional 2 minutes while pressing the soft peaches against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and fold in the julienned mint. Allow the mixture to cool and store, refrigerated, for a few weeks.

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Photo(s) by Tim Hussey