Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chinese Plum Sauce

As summer dwindles and fall creeps in, you may find yourself in possession of a basket or two of plums.  If so, I have just the thing for you.  Chinese plum sauce is a sweet and sour, pleasantly salty, and aromatically spiced condiment used frequently in Chinese cooking and as a dipping sauce.  I have to admit that I have never been fond of plum sauce, mainly because my knowledge of it came from a jar found next to the microwavable ramen noodles in the grocery store.  That is, until recently, when I found myself with a basket of ripe, juicy red plums and decided to make it myself. 

Let me tell you, this stuff is great!  Much better than the store-bought stuff, it is the consistency of a slightly thin ketchup and is so flavorful.  Great in stir-fries, used as a dipping sauce for eggrolls and pot stickers, and slathered over a pork roast, it is versatile and worth a try.  It is also one of the easiest condiments I have ever made and is perfect for a fairly quick canning project. 

It begins with plums (most any type will do), vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, and spices which are cooked until the plums are soft and beginning to fall apart. 

The mixture goes for a whirl in the blender until it is smooth and ready to be ladled into jars and processed in a water bath canner.  Easy peasy (and tasty to boot). 

I adapted this recipe from Put 'Em Up!  After looking at a variety of other recipes online and in books, I changed some ingredients to fit what I had on hand and added additional spices.  Feel free to alter the spices to suit your tastes, but remember to include the full amount of sugar and vinegar to insure a safe product. 

Chinese Plum Sauce
makes 4-5 half-pints (mine made 5 but just barely)

2 1/2 pounds plums, chopped (pits removed, but peel left intact)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp Five Spice
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Place all ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer approximately 25 minutes until the plums have softened and the sauce has thickened a little.  Puree in a food processor or blender and return to the pot.  Bring back to a boil.  Ladle into hot, sterilized 8 oz jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles, adjust headspace, and wipe the rims with a clean towel.  Place sterlized lids and rings on jars and process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.  Let jars rest in canner 5 minutes after processing time has ended.  Remove jars to a towel to rest 24 hours. Check seals, lable, and store.  



  1. This looks phenomenal, but alas... I have no five spice! What can I doooo?

  2. You could make it without and just make up the difference with more ginger. Actually, the original recipe did not call for Five Spice anyway. I just added it for a little more interest. You could also try adding a little cinnamon and clove (maybe 1/4 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of cloves to get some of that flavor). Let me know how it goes if you decide to make it!

  3. Made a smaller batch of this as I don't want to can it, just use it. It was really tasty, but a tad too far on the sweet side, so I added some garlic powder and more pepper flakes.