Make your own lightly spicy canned plum sauce for recipes and as a condiment on meats and Asian dishes. It’s super easy, tastes delicious, and makes fun gifts.
In addition to Addictive Tomato Chutney, this canned plum sauce is one of my must-have condiments to have on hand throughout the year. It adds a wonderful flavor to vegetable stir fries and baked (or grilled) chicken and pork.
One of my favorite ways to use it is with faux moo-shu chicken or pork, made easy and accessible by using flour tortillas for the Chinese pancakes. Simply stir-fry cabbage, broccoli and carrots with some thinly sliced meat, add a little sauce made of soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger at the end of stir-frying, and serve it with the tortillas and this canned plum sauce. Dinner done!
The flavor of this is SO good – I think its way better than the store bought stuff. And it’s really easy to make – it’s a good beginner canning recipe. It’s also a lot cheaper than the small little bottles in stores, especially if you grow or can find the plums for free.
Make Canned Plum Sauce
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I like to use Italian plums for 2 reasons:
- They are drier so take less time to thicken and
- They grow in abundance around here, so I can usually find them for free (and if you have access to Italian plums, they make the BEST dried plums ever – definitely not your mother’s prunes!)
But I have made this with regular plums and other than being a lighter color and taking a bit longer to cook, it was just as good. Your sauce will be the color of whatever type plum you use – Italian are dark, so this sauce is, too.
I used to hand chop all the ingredients for this sauce, but when I discovered how easy the food processor made canning tomato chutney and my favorite salsa, I now use the processor for this recipe, too. Simply cut the plums in half, remove the pit, and just throw them in the food processor.
Tip: after many years using a couple of cheap, not great food processors, this is the best price-best quality food processor I use and recommend now.
Use the processor to finely chop the onions, too, if you’d like 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. This plum sauce literally takes just a few minutes to prepare – the rest is just stirring and canning.
After an hour, use an immersion blender to make a smooth sauce, incorporating the skins and onions. Just process for a minute until desired consistency.
Let the plum sauce cook until it’s thick and syrupy – usually about another 45 minutes to an hour.
Tip: 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.
Prepare lids, jars, and canner while sauce cooks (here is a list of the essential canning tools I use and love). Read my easy step-by-step canning tutorial here or check out this companion video tutorial if you’re new to canning (both updated with current safety information):
Transfer to clean, warm half-pint jar, leaving 1/4-inch headspace, and attach lids.
Process for 20 minutes in a boiling water canner, turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes before removing jars. Cool and store for up to 18 months.
(Note: I now use a stainless steel canner with a glass lid and smooth bottom that I recommend to everyone! It can be used on smooth-top ranges and monitoring the boil through the glass is easier and safer, plus you can fit more jars into each batch.)
I think you will love this canned plum sauce as much as I do! Plus it makes terrific gifts. A basket of this with some Asian sauce ingredients (soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, etc.) and a few recipes to use it would be so fun, wouldn’t it?
Spicy Canned Plum Sauce Recipe
- 4 pounds plums washed, cut in half and pitted (or amount needed to equal 8 cups of food-processed chopped plums)
- 3/4 cup chopped onion about 1 medium
- 1½ cups brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 2 tablespoons dry ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic minced, about 2 teaspoons
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes or to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 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.
- Combine the remaining ingredients with plums and onions, bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Cook until thickened, about an hour.
- For a smooth sauce, puree with an immersion blender right in the pot (optional if you'd like a chunkier sauce, though it helps speed the cooking time) and continue cooking for another hour, or until the sauce reaches the desired thickness.
- Ladle sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Attach lids and rings. Process 20 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Turn off heat, remove lid and let jars sit in canner to cool for 5 minutes. Remove to a cloth to cool completely.
- Test lids, label jars, store and use within a year to 18 months.
Other easy canned condiments you may like:
Note: this recipe for canned plum sauce was originally published in 2011 and has been updated with larger photos, pinnable image, clearer formatting and printable recipe. Enjoy!
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