Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Backyard Plum Sauce

The same neighbour with a cherry tree that overhangs our fence also has a plum tree! My mother warned me that some plums are good cooked and others are bitter, so I did a test by microwaving a couple for a minute to see which I had. They were sour, but not bitter, so I figured we had a winning plum tree. If you're using backyard plums, I advise cooking a few as a test just to make sure you don't end up with a giant batch of bitter plum sauce.

Plum Dipping Sauce
8 cups plums - prune or Damson if you're buying them
1 sweet or white onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar (my plums were sour, so I ended up using about 3 cups sugar)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp rice vinegar (I used cider vinegar, white would be fine too)
1/3 cup Chinese rice wine, sake, or sherry
4 tsp minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 star anise (optional)
2 inch cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
4 green cardamom pods (optional)
1/2 tsp salt

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir everything together. I just put my plums in whole, as they are small and removing the pits would have been really annoying. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for an hour or so until sort of applesauce like.

When I started it looked like this:

Then after about 45 minutes it looked more like this:

Give it a taste and add more sugar if it's too sour for you. Once it's pretty liquid, strain it through a fine sieve or food mill into another saucepan. This part is doomed to be messy. Do it in the sink.

Return mixture to simmer. Ladle into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. (The recipe says 5 - 250 ml jars. I had more plums and ended up with more than that.) Seal with prepared lids and bands. Process jars for 15 minutes in boiling water. Let cool on rack and check that the lids have sealed once cool (if not, put in fridge and eat soon.)

Serve with chicken or pork.