Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes
Makes: 1.2 litres
2kg plums, pitted and quartered
200gm onions [2 medium onions] finely chopped
750ml white wine vinegar
400g soft brown sugar
4 medium cloves of garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cardamom
1. Grease the base of the pan lightly with oil or butter. Combine the ingredients in a large pan. Stir over a low heat without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Bring to the boil, then very gently simmer the mixture, covered, for about 40 minutes, or until the fruit has broken down and is pulpy. Take care not to overcook, so it is too thick and dry to puree. Stir occasionally during the cooking to check the mixture is not sticking or burning.
3. Rub the mixture through a large sieve or a food mill or blend in batches. Return the mixture to a clean pan. Test the consistency. [See below- Test when ready to bottle.] If the consistency is ok, bring to the boil and bottle immediately. Otherwise, cook until it has a thick but pourable consistency.
4. When ready, spoon the sauce into warmed sterilized jars. Use a skewer or the long handle of a spoon to remove any air bubbles. Cover with a lid and seal immediately.
5. Leave to cool. Label and store in a cool dark place and leave to mature for at least 2 months before eating. Use within 12months of making. Once open, store in the refrigerator and use within 6 weeks.
• Sauces, which are made from vegetables, fruit, sugar, spices and vinegar, are cooked until they have thicken but are still
of a pouring consistency. The cooking is long and slow. They need to be left for 2 months before eating to allow the
flavours to develop.
• Make sure your pan is large enough and preferably, is heavy-based. Do not leave vegetables or vinegar standing in
aluminium pans for more than an hour.
• Vinegar- use a good quality vinegar with at least 4% acetic acid [can be malt, white or red wine vinegar]. Cheap vinegars
do not contain enough acetic acid to act as a preservative.
• Sugar is not simply a sweetener but is also a preservative when used in high concentration as it acts to stop the
development and growth of micro-organisms. Brown or white sugar is used in sauces- brown sugar simply gives a richer
flavour and colour.
• Bottle [jars]- check there are no chips or cracks. Wash bottles and lids in a dishwasher or hot soapy water and rinse well.
Dry and sterilise the bottles in the oven. Place on a baking tray and leave in an oven [preheated to 120 degrees
Centigrade/Gas Mark ½ ] for 20 minutes or until ready to use.
• Cooking times can vary depending on the size of pan used, fruit and vegetables used, whether they are in season, their
water content, how gentle the simmering etc.
• Stirring- sauces need to be stirred occasionally to prevent sticking and burning on the bottom of the pan. Stir across the
base of the pan not just around the edge.
• Test for when ready to bottle – When you return the puree mixture to the pan, pour a spoonful of sauce onto a plate to
test the consistency which should be thick but pourable and that the sauce does not have any runny liquid separating out.
Keep cooking till you achieve this. Remember, sauce thickens further when cool.
• Alternative version: You can add 2 finely chopped small fresh red chillies or ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper if you want it hot.
Damsons or sharp cooking plums give a stronger flavour.