I recently, with some vague amusement, noted that terroir has been declared the new fad in food. That is, your culinary creations should be seasonal and local.
So, when I was recently offered a big bag of plums from a back-garden tree belonging to Em’s brother and sister-in-law, I said yes and thank-you. What a perfect way to partake in the new ‘fad’.
With plums in hand, I had to decide what I was going to do with them. I turned to that reliable ol’ tome, Stephanie’s. Under ‘plums’, Stephanie has listed a small array of recipes. I’m not exactly sure why (especially because this sauce is designed to accompany lamb, sausages, hamburgers, beef or rabbit – none of which I eat) but the recipe for ‘plum sauce’ appealed to me the most.
This is how it is done:
1½ tsp cloves
1 tsp whole allspice
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 dried chilli (Stephanie said only to use this in place of the pepper, but I used it in addition to the pepper. Nothing succeeds like excess.)
2 ¼ cups brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbs minced ginger
3 cups white-wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar instead, which has given my sauce quite a different taste to what was likely intended.)
- Remove the stones from the plums. (This is best done by cutting them down the middle, then twisting them apart.)
- Crack half the stones and tie them in a little bag of muslin. (I used chux, and I forgot to crack the stones, which may also explain why my sauce was quite runny.)
- Tie the spices into another bag of muslin/chux.
- Place bags, plums, sugar, salt, ginger and vinegar into a large ‘non-reactive’ pot. (I used an enamel pot.)
- Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Cook for at least 20 minutes until the plums have disintegrated.
- Remove the bags.
- Stephanie now recommends passing the mixture though ‘the course disc of a food mill’ and returning it to the rinsed out pan. I did not do this, I just used the hand blender to puree the sauce while it was still in the pot. This method seemed to work and it involves a lot less washing up and moving backwards and forwards…
- Boil steadily until the mixture is as thick as you like it.
- Pour into sterilised jars and leave for a week before using. This will keep for months…
I sterilised my jars by boiling them in a stockpot for about 10 minutes, and then drying them in the oven.
My sauce, let’s be honest, did not taste ‘fantastic’. Just ok. Very vinegary. Perhaps the red wine vinegar was not a great substitute. The spices came though nicely though – they were subtle, yet present.
Now that I’ve gone to all the effort to make the plum sauce, I’ve been wondering what exactly can be done with it. Stephanie suggested that it can be mixed with dijon mustard, garlic, rosemary and ginger for a lamb/pork marinade. I found her exact recipe here, after a bit of googling. In this version, she said that: ‘a splash in the roasting tin after cooking a leg of lamb, before a quick bubble-up with a glass of wine, creates an instant sauce’.
Such a pity I don’t eat lamb, now that I have a load of pretty plum sauce. I wonder if it would work as a marinade for tofu? I’ll let you know…
UPDATE on 3 March: Last night I had some of the sauce with corn fritters, goats cheese and salad. It pleased me.