Plum Sauce and the not-so-sweet plums it was made from
If you find you have inadvertently acquired a plum tree which does not have very sweet and delicious plums, do not despair. Plums which are not so nice for eating raw can be often be better cooked, especially when they are used as a carrier for spicy flavours. Plum Sauce is a great way to make use of these sorts of plums, and I have a whole tree of them, so I have been hard at it. This sauce is a perfect accompaniment to Zucchini and Feta Fritters, falafels, and other fried morsels of all kinds.
It is easy if a little time-consuming to make – especially straining out all the stones. But the taste is well worth it. Here is the recipe I used, made up by amalgamating the features I liked best from the Plum Sauce recipes provided by Digby Law and Gilian Painter in their excellent books of home preserve recipes.
3 kg plums (count the number this comes to, so that you know how many stones to strain out)
1 kg white sugar
1.5 litres malt vinegar
2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp whole allspice, 2 tsp whole cloves and 2 tsp black peppercorns, all tied together in a muslin spice bag
Weigh the plums, wash them, and count them.
Put them in a large preserving pan along with the rest of the ingredients and simmer the mixture for 1-2 hours, until a sauce-like consistency is reached.
(Stir often as the mixture starts to thicken, to prevent it burning.)
Strain out the stones.
(I scooped them out with a slotted spoon, put them and surrounding plum flesh in a sieve, pushed the flesh through the sieve, and picked out the stones. If you know of an easier way, please tell me!)
Whizz the sauce in batches in a food processor, until it is smooth.
Reheat it to boiling, and bottle it in hot, sterilised bottles or jars.
It will keep for a year or so (keep it in the fridge once it is opened), and improves with keeping.