What do you do with tens of kilos of damson plums?
Make jam – it’s almost as good as blackcurrant.
And make up a new recipe for Chinese plum sauce aka damson ketchup.
I must have read twenty recipes to get a feel for what I wanted.
I followed my old friend, Stephanie Alexander’s for plum sauce but changed the spices from old style English to Chinese.
I decided to squeeze the juice from a tablespoon of grated ginger rather than add it whole to the sauce.
I roasted the spices and roughly crushed them and tied them in a piece of muslin to go in the 3 kilos of stewed damsons that I’d pureed through a large holed food mill removing the stones as I went.
The basic recipe I followed morphed and ended up including 2 medium sized roasted sweet potatoes which I skinned, added and blended.
I’m pretty pleased with how it’s turned out.
It made a dozen smallish bottles to give away and a big bottle for the pantry.
Sweet and sour sauce for stir fries or as a condiment on sandwiches or salads
- 3 kg damson plums, washed and de-stalked
- 2 1/2 cups (UK) brown sugar
- 3 cups (UK) white or cider vinegar
- 2 medium sweet potatoes (roasted whole and skinned)
- 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 whole star anise
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 3/4 tsp sichuan pepper or dried chillies
- 6 whole cloves
- 1/2 long cinnamon stick
Stew the damsons in a large preserving pan or saucepan with only the water that they have clinging to them after being washed. Stir frequently to prevent them sticking on the bottom of the pan. This should only take 20 mins to 1/2 and hour.
In stages, pour the stewed damsons into large food mill and push through - removing the stones as you go. I used my bare fingers as I found gloves stopped me from picking them out cleanly. I just rinsed my hands between times.
You should now have a large pot of damson puree to which you add the sugar and vinegar and bring to a slow simmer.
While this is brewing, roast your whole spices in a dry pan watching carefully to avoid burning. Then crush roughly in a mortar and pestle before tying securely in a piece of muslin.
Add the muslin to the damsons along with the juice of the ginger - use your hand to squeeze it firmly - you should be left with the dryish pulp which you can add to your compost.
Season with the salt and cook for an hour or so. Then remove the spices in the muslin and add the roasted sweet potato flesh.
Remove from the heat and puree preferably with a stick blender. Bring back to a simmer and then remove from the heat.
Pour into clean hot sterilised bottles or jars.