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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Plums, plums, plums

The art of Putting Food By has always been a secret indulgence of mine. Despite dirt-cheap jams and sauces flooding the supermarket, there is something extremely fulfilling about gathering the pesticide-free fresh produce from the backyard home-garden and putting it by for the colder months when the yield would be down to nil...

The only initial fear for me was inadvertent poisoning due to botulism if the canning is not done right. I stick to acidic foods which are hard to spoil and usually follow the directions and times for processing. There is nothing like hearing the "pop" as the jar cools after undergoing the boiling water bath canning, when the lid gets sucked in by the contracting air and the jar seals tight. All that's left is labeling with the date and storing it away in the pantry :)

We came back from a long and lovely vacation to find the little patch of Earth on our backyard yielding plentiful sustenance. The plum tree especially was overloaded with ripe purple prune plums. Sweet and juicy as-is, but, I was itching to make good plum jam and Chinese-style plum sauce and can them away...

Plum jam wasn't anything new - just followed the recipe that comes with the Fruit Pectin packet. Except I reduced the sugar, which is not a smart thing usually as the jam won't set well. But, I like the loose spreadable consistency anyway :)

Pit and coarsely chop the plums. Simmer in a little bit of water (about ¼ cup for 6 cups of chopped plums) for about 5 minutes. Crush it or process it in a blender, draining excess water. Return to pot, stir in a packet of fruit pectin allow to come to rolling boil. Skim foam if preferred. Stir in about 6-8 cups of sugar (makes it cloyingly sweet, but jam doesn't set well otherwise) and allow to come back to a boil. Stir well, and can in boiling water bath canner for 25-30 minutes.


I have always loved Chinese Plum Sauce mixed with Sambal Olelek - just the plum sauce by itself that I get at the stores is almost like honey, too sweet. So, I wanted to make some Plum Sauce that was close to my liking and ready to use on busy weekdays.

4 cups pitted chopped plums
½ medium onion, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
4-6 cloves of garlic, maybe more
2 Tbsp Sambal Oelek
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
½ tsp Chinese Five Spice
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp coriander powder (optional)
1 Tbsp Agave nectar or brown sugar

Combine the first five ingredients and allow to simmer for 10-15 minuted till onions and garlic are tender. Mash or process in a blender. Strain. Return to pot and add the rest of the ingredients to taste. Allow to simmer for another 20 minutes or so. Can in boiling water bath for about 30 minutes.

In addition to luscious sweet plum flavor, the sauce has all the spiciness I enjoy. This is almost like Hot-and-Sweet sauce and can be used as a dip for spring rolls and gyoza.


Just for fun, to serve as simple winter dessert, I decided to can some plums whole. Rather than raw pack, I decided to process them hot in very light syrup (½ cup sugar for 8 cups of water). Despite pricking the skin with fork, some plums were too ripe and the skin split, but that's okay... I boiled them for about 35 minutes for canning.


The plums are all put by for now. I am looking forward to dealing with all the pears this weekend... maybe make some pear sauce (like applesauce), maybe pack them in light syrup...

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  • At 7:03 AM, Blogger IEDig said…

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  • At 2:38 PM, Blogger IMCurtain said…

    Lovely post! Dropping by...

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  • At 7:54 PM, Blogger Cynthia said…

    What a bountiful backyard you have! Loved the soundtrack :)

  • At 8:00 PM, Blogger Sheela said…

    Thank you, Cynthia! That's my daughter singing, if you didn't guess it already :)


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