If, like me, your freezer is full to bursting with plums and you have made all the jam - and chutney - that you will need for the coming year ( and probably the next! ) then it is time to cast around for some other ideas. I have already made the Plums in Brandy and Plum Leather and this week I have been making Plum Sauce - Chinese Style. I love those little pancakes that you get from the Chinese Takeaway spread with plum sauce and covered with shredded duck, cucumber and spring onions. Roll it all up for a sweet-sour hot-cold delight.
So it was out to the store to fetch a 3kg bag of Victoria Plums and I set them over a low heat to gently thaw out and poach until soft.
I got my bottles washed and rinsed and put them in warm oven to dry and sterilise. (This recipe made 12 bottles ) I am using the 250ml milk bottles which have a nice wide neck to get the sauce in - and out again! There is nothing more frustrating than seeing your lovely sauce trapped in the bottom of of a jar and having to throw it away!
Using our lovely stainless steel pan here - just £24.99 for the moment.
Next I chopped a large onion - around 250g, 2 cloves of garlic and 1 small de-seeded red chilli, added them to the plums with 1 litre red wine vinegar and 2 teaspoons sea salt. Get the heat into the contents of the pan and then simmer gently until the onion is soft, Make up a spice bag of 1 small piece of ginger, chopped, plus 1 star anise, 2 teaspoons Sichuan Pepper and 3-5 cloves and add to the pan during the simmer - around 25 - 30 minutes. While this is cooking you can amuse yourself hooking out all of the plum stones!
Once the mixture is cooked process in a blender if possible and then strain through a sieve so that the sauce is absolutely smooth. If you don't have a blender you will need to push the mixture through a sieve, catching the pulp in a clean pan.
Gently reheat the sauce and add 500gms light brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Taste at this point as you may need a bit more sugar.
Once thoroughly heated remove the warm bottles from the oven and fill with the sauce. Fill the bottles to the brim and seal immediately. The sauce will shrink as it cools and a vacuum will be formed which holds the seal in the lid tight down onto the bottle.
Keep the sauce out of strong light in a cool place - wait for a couple of weeks to allow the flavour to mellow and then enjoy it on just about anything!
Don't stop at plums - I have recipes for you to try which have so much more flavour than shop bought products, are better for you, are cheaper and are there when you need them. Remember, if you need to go shopping for just one item - it is guaranteed you will spend at least £30 and come out with a small trolley load! These sauces are good unopened for one year ( unless the recipe says otherwise ), once opened use within 3 months. Have a go at Everyday Brown Sauce - just like, you know, the one with two initials, a delicious Tomato Ketchup, Rosie's Chilli Sauce and the unusual but utterly moreish Apple, Sage and Cider Sauce.