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While not an “official” participant in the Tigress’ Can Jam Challenge – I decided to play along for the rest of the year.  The selection for September is peaches and other forms of stone fruit.  Having already done two peach posts this summer – I chose plums.  Plums bring back fond memories of riding through the plum orchards as both the horse and I both consumed huge quantities of italian style plums straight off the trees.  Unlike peaches, plums don’t require peeling – an added benefit to working with them (and another reason for the choice).

A quick inventory of my pantry revealed lots of jars of jam – but not too many condiments. It was time to expand my horizons with a fruit based condiment so I decided to try my hand at Chinese Plum Sauce.  In asian culture the five petals of the flowers of the plum symbolize five blessings:  old age, wealth, health, love of virtue, and a natural death.  Plums are also used in Chinese medicine to promote a strong digestive system and heart.   The plum sauce seemed like the perfect path to a healthy plum nirvana.  Besides – making a sauce meant I got to use kitchen power tools. 

I researched a couple of recipe sources and eventually chose the Chinese Plum Sauce from Sheri Brooks Vinton’s fabulous book “Put ’em Up.”  Some of the internet recipes seemed to play a little loose and fast with the vinegar – making me nervous about acidity levels.  I made some minor spice adjustments as noted to tailor the sauce to my tastes.  Being new to canning I did not touch the fruit/vinegar/sugar ratios to ensure a good acidity level. Besides being very tasty – this recipe will have your entire house enriched with the scent of plums and ginger – and the color change that the sauce undergoes as it cooks down to a rich plum color is magical to watch.

Plum Sauced Ribs

Chinese Plum Sauce – adapted from the Chinese Plum Sauce recipe in Put ’em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton

2 pounds plums chopped (I used a combination of red and black plums)

3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger

2 garlic cloves (I smashed the cloves prior to putting in the pot)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon fresh ground anise seed (original recipe called for star anise as the only spice)

1/2 tablespoon fresh ground cloves

ground ginger to taste

Put all ingredients except ground ginger in pot – stirring frequently heat on medium high until reaching a rolling boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until thick (about 20 minutes) – stirring occasionally.  Once thick use immersion blender to create a puree.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary (I added a little more ground ginger to up the spice quotient).  Ladle into prepared 1/2 pint jars leaving a 1/4 inch head space, remove air bubbles, wipe rims and cap.  Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.