Spicy Canned Plum Sauce {Lower Sugar}

(Note: This is a lower-sugar version of my standby plum sauce that I shared last year. I like it better and honestly can’t tell there’s less sugar)

Less sugar plum sauce

In addition to Addictive Tomato Chutney, this Spicy Plum Sauce is one of my favorite condiments to have on hand throughout the year. We use it on stir fries and moo-shu chicken or pork (using flour tortillas for the pancakes) as well as brushing it on baked chicken and pork.

It is SO good. And so easy. And a lot cheaper than the small little bottles you buy at the store- especially if you can find the plums for free like I did- it sure helps to have a brother-in-law who will share his “secret” spot for harvesting plums with you.

I usually use Italian Plums for this sauce- they are less juicy, so the sauce thickens quicker – but any type of plum will work. Bear in mind that if you use a variety with lighter skin and flesh, the sauce will not be the color of mine.

Oh, and if you are able to get Italian plums, you HAVE to dry some- they make the best dried fruit I’ve ever had. And they are nothing like the squishy, moist prunes we are used to- I thoroughly dry them until they are like individual little fruit leathers, all tart and sweet. I really eat way too many of these at this time of year! (Update: click here for a tutorial on How to Dry Plums – not your mother’s prunes!)

I love easy sauces like this- cut the plums in half and remove the pit and then just throw them in the food processor. Use the processor to finely chop the onions, too, and then throw these and all the other ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Cook for about an hour on low- stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. It takes just a few minutes to prepare and the rest is just stirring and canning.

After an hour, use an immersion blender to make the sauce smooth, and let it cook until it’s as thick as you want it- usually about another 45 minutes to an hour. But it really wants to stick to the bottom as it thickens, so plan on hanging around the kitchen so you’re available to stir every now and then.

Transfer to clean, warm half-pint jars, attach lids and boil in a canner for 20 minutes (canning really is easy- here’s a step-by-step canning tutorial).


Spicy Canned Plum Sauce

Adapted from the”Ball Blue Book of Preserving” (still safe! I simply decreased the sugar, omitted two fresh ingredients so I could add another teaspoon of garlic, as well as changed some of the dry ingredients which doesn’t affect acidity)

  • 4 pounds plums, washed, cut in half and pitted
  • 3/4 c. chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1-1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1 T. dry mustard
  • 2 T. dry, ground ginger
  • 1 T. salt
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 c. cider vinegar
  1. Chop plums in a food processor and transfer to a large heavy-bottomed pot (it should equal 8 cups chopped plums). Chop onions in processor and add them to the plums.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients with plums and onions, bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Cook until thickened, about an hour.
  3. For a smooth sauce, puree with an immersion blender right in the pot and continue cooking for another hour, or until the sauce reaches the desired thickness.
  4. Ladle sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Attach lids and rings. Process 20 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Remove to a cloth to cool completely.
  5. Test lids, label jars, and use within a year or so.

Makes 8 1/2-pints

This is linked to Frugal Friday, Foodie Friday, andTasty Tuesday



  1. says

    This looks so good…..I think I’m going to make this soon while those plums are still around. I made Plum Jam with these plums, it’s a real tasty jam on my blog.
    I’m now a follower of yours, love your Blog.

  2. luna says

    I just made this and couldn’t stop tasting it along the way. My jars are currently cooling. I did chicken out when it came to the I T of salt so I used 1tsp and it tastes pretty darn good. Was the 1T a mistake?


    • Jami says

      Nope, it’s a tablespoon. I adapted the recipe from the Ball Blue Book (changing things like spices and sugar only) and the recipe calls for 1 TB. If you’re happy with the teaspoon, that’s great! Glad you like it. :)

  3. Pamela in Portland says

    Just put up 10 half pints of this amazing plum sauce tonight and then looking back at the recipe, I realized that I left more like a half inch space at the top of each jar not the quarter inch stated. The jars all sealed but wondering if you think there is cause for concern due to this extra space?

    Thanks for your amazing recipes, canning tutorial, and all the other great DIY stuff!

    • says

      I’m sure they’re fine if they all sealed, Pamela! The headspace amt. is the optimum for sealing, but as long as they sealed, you’re good to go. :)

  4. says

    I made a mini batch tonight and it was amazing! I have a tree full of Italian plums and tomorrow will tackle canning a double batch! Thanks! (I did add a bit of 5 spice too for kicks!)

  5. Queen of String says

    I made a half batch and the ginger was really dominant, on asking around, it seems the ball book calls for 1 TBSP of fresh ginger, which would be 1-2 tsp of dried , not 2 TBSP of dried as stated above, for a full batch. I see that others have had good results with the recipe as stated, but personally I cant taste anything but ginger. I would use 1-2 tsp in future. I am glad you posted it though, it’s a great idea for the tons of plums this year.

    • says

      It’s perfectly fine to adjust the dried seasonings to your taste – that’s how we make things our own. I like ginger, so I use a larger amount. :)

  6. Alex says

    This recipe looks fantastic!! I have tons of plums from my friend’s tree and am going to get the ingredients tomorrow. I’m wondering if the amount of sugar could be reduced even further? I love very tart flavors. Do you think it would be safe to can with less sugar?


    • says

      Yes, you can reduce sugar safely in canned items, Alex, it’s the vinegar in this that you wouldn’t want to mess with. The sugar does help with the color and such, so be aware of that. Hope you enjoy it!

  7. Pamela S says

    Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I made this last weekend and it is so yummy. It sorta reminds me of a barbaque sauce. It is definetly a keeper!
    Thanks again for sharing.

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