Sunday, August 15, 2010

Plumb Luscious Plum Sauce

plum sauce

Plum season has come and gone here, and I didn't get a chance to write this up in time, but hopefully some of you in more northern climes are still getting some plums, or maybe you froze some until you figured out what to do with them...let me tell you, this is what to do with them.

I froze a good number of plums for smoothies, and made plum jam, and the darn things were so delicious that I went back to the Certified Arkansas Farmers Market the next week and bought another box of plums from The Russian Farmer. Froze some more, and decided that I wanted to do something really special with the last of them, since there wouldn't be any more fresh local plums this year. So I did what I always do when faced with such a quandary: I took it to Twitter (and by extension, Facebook, since my Twitter updates post there as well). I was rewarded with the most amazing plum sauce recipe EVER, from the lovely Joie of Canned Laughter. I only made a couple of tiny, inconsequential changes to Joie's original recipe, and I'll note those for you as we come to them.

JOIE'S PLUM SAUCE:

* 4 lbs. Dark Plums
* 8 oz. Onions
* 1 scant cup Golden Raisins
* 2 tsp. each: Whole Allspice, Peppercorns, Mustard Seeds
* 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
* 1 inch piece of bruised Ginger Root (~1/4 oz.)***I at least tripled this amount, and chopped it up--we love ginger!
* 2-1/2 cups Brown Malt Vinegar (or substitute Apple Cider Vinegar)***I used both
* 2-1/2 Tbs. pickling salt
* 1-1/3 cups soft Brown Sugar, light

yum plums!

Start with four pounds of beautiful, ripe (but not overripe) plums. Joie's recipe called for "dark plums," which is good, because that's what I had. Wash, chop, and pit them--no need to peel them at this time (or ever, if you do it the way I did).

Find a kid to peel the ginger for you, because peeling ginger root is a pain in the nether regions. Use a whole one-inch chunk to follow Joie's recipe, or three times that much, chopped, if you're doing it my way.

get a kid with plums under her fingernails to peel the ginger

Bundle the whole spices (allspice, peppercorns, and mustard seed) in a bit of cheesecloth, tied up and secured in a nice little bindle. I fasten mine with a zip-tie, and cut off the excess cloth.

In a heavy, non-reactive (no aluminum, no non-coated iron, no copper) pot, combine chopped plums, chopped onions, raisins, ginger, half the vinegar (My bottle of malt vinegar wasn't quite enough for this recipe, so I made up the rest with organic ACV),cayenne pepper, and the sachet of whole spices.

plum sauce makin's

Bring this mixture to the boil, then reduce temperature and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, or until plums are soft and pulpy. It just gets more and more beautiful as it simmers.

that right there will make your house smell good

first simmer

This next part is where I disobeyed Joie's instructions. My sauce turned out amazing, and I'm sure it does when done her way, too--heck, her way might be better. But I am lazy, and I also hate to waste anything, plus I like a strong ginger "bite" to sauces like this. So, to follow Joie's instructions, at this point you'll want to remove the spice bag, and strain the cooked sauce into another container, rubbing the contents through a fine sieve before returning the strained mixture to the original, rinsed pot.

What I did was simply to remove the spice bag, and puree everything until it was perfectly smooth. Use a blender, a food processor, or the easiest option, an immersion (stick) blender, right in the cooking pot.

Whichever route you choose, at this point you'll add in the salt, sugar, and the remaining vinegar. Bring the mixture back up to the boil, and keep it at a good bubbling simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. It should reduce down a good bit, and thicken up some.

second simmer, after puree

Ladle hot sauce carefully into hot, sterilized jars, adjust lids and rims, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes (more if at higher altitudes--check your local extension office guidelines). Rest for 24 hours before storing in a cool, dark place (mine just live in a kitchen cabinet). Joie says that her recipe yields 2 pints, or 4 half-pint jelly jars. My batch, as you can tell from the picture at the top of this post, yielded 7 half-pint jars...probably because I pureed everything instead of straining anything out.

I really appreciate Joie sharing her recipe with me, because this plum sauce is simply divine! And look how pretty it is! This would make an amazing gift, if you are a better person than me and can resist the urge to hoard it all for yourself. I'm imagining many wonderful uses for this delicious sauce...on lamb, on chicken, or to elevate pork roast to another level altogether. And desserts? Oh, the options are endless.

so pretty

8 comments:

  1. Hey Belinda, a much easier way to peel ginger is to use your chef's knife to just cut away slices until the peel is gone. You may need to start with a slightly larger piece to make up for what will go missing with the peel. I lay the piece flat on the cutting board and just trim it that way (as opposed to standing it up). Another benefit to the method is that this way, you end up with a fairly consistently shaped piece of ginger if you're cutting matchsticks or dice from it.

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  2. I LOVE that you tried this and made it your own! Next time I will for sure try it with more ginger just like yours.

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  3. Robin, I always pick out the least "knobby" sections of ginger root, for just that reason! I knew I'd be pulverizing this piece, so I didn't wanna waste a bit. I'll sure use your method next time I need to have it minced or such.

    Joie, this is the most luscious stuff ever. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Chair, you do! It's yummy!

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  4. Belinda,
    I find it that its really easy to peel ginger with a spoon. Just grab a dessert spoon and scrape the skin off the root... the spoon is easily maneuvered arround all of the knobby parts. Great recipe!

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  5. What a good idea, Ana, and you don't waste the "knobs!"

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  6. I made this sauce this weekend - YUM! I can't wait to give some as gifts. I too love, love, love ginger, and followed your recommendations. I employ the spoon method for peeling ginger as well. It doesn't take off as much a traditional peeler, and it's really quick.

    Thank you for sharing!!

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  7. Us a spoon to peel ginger. a regular teaspoon. it just takes the peel and not the root.
    (googled tick bites and read your post from 2007 and then stumbled here)

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