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Plum Sauce / Pflaumenmus
When we purchased Wit’s End, our small [mostly] apple orchard, it came with fourteen plum trees (also four wild cherry trees, yay). There are at least two different varieties of plums there, but one: I can’t tell, and two: it doesn’t matter for this recipe.
This is the fastest way to make a delicious plum sauce fit for bread, pancakes, ice-cream, or just a spoon (keep the insulin handy). You will need:
The first thing you want to do is wash and pit the plums. Washing them is just running them under water until any particulates are rinsed off (no need for a toothbrush). Pitting them is more messy. The first dozen batches of this that we made, we were sitting at the table with paring knives, scoring the plums around the middle and then digging the pits out with our fingernails. Don’t do that. It sucks and you’ll be sore and cut up from the sharp pits, especially if you value your nails (not me, I swear). The best way to do this is to smash the things in your hand over the pot and discard the pit after you get most of the pulp off of it. Now, if you’re squeamish or if you have a thing about getting squishy things on your hands, you probably shouldn’t be cooking at all, but go back to the first way and try not to cramp up and slice a finger.
Once all of the plums (either neatly sliced in half or mashed up into a slippery mass) are in the pot, add your molasses and then the spices and sugar. (I also like to add a few squirts of lemon juice over it all to give it a little shock of acid, but that’s up to you)
Cover the pot, place it in the crockpot sleeve (our’s comes out) or in your oven (I don’t know what temperature to set it at, so just go buy a crockpot, you’ll thank me later). Set the level to high, and then set your time to four hours, or if you put this off until the evening, set the level to low, and stop it when you wake up.
Once your timer goes off, or when you finish your morning coffee, you’ll want to blend the cooked plum soup until it’s smooth. This is where you find out whether you really got all the pits out of the plums, cuz you’ll hear them rattling around the blades. This sucks, fishing a tiny (our’s are tiny) plum pit out of what equates to a boiling tar pit is not something you should do while distracted. Pay attention when pitting next time. Also, even if you didn’t forget a pit, careful when blending if using a hand blender, if it spits the liquid back at you, it will hurt, and likely stain whatever you’re wearing (if doing this in the morning, get dressed first, or at least put on an apron if you’re kinky).
If you want plum syrup, you’re done!
If you want spreadable plum sauce, plan this next step when you have a couple hours free. You’ll want to transfer the blended syrup into a large saucepan and set it to boil/simmer. The point is to boil off as much water as is needed to make the sauce as thick as you want it. This is where the wooden spatula comes in handy, at the beginning you won’t need to stir/scrape too often, but as it gets thicker, the chances that it will stick and burn increase. If it does, put down your phone and pay attention! It will taste burnt, and you’ll be stuck eating burnt plum sauce. This process takes a while, ideally, you’ll want to keep the heat somewhere between simmering and spitting lava pit settings. If you have a fancy gas stove where you can adjust smoothly, well good for you. Our stovetop was connected poorly, and we have only two settings for the six numbers on the dial: “off” and “spitting lava pit”. If you’re like us, you’ll need to fiddle with the dial to keep it putting out enough steam to actually make a difference. Hopefully you moonlight as a DJ.
When you’ve gotten the results you were dreaming of (or at least the ones that you are stuck with after destroying the bottom of your saucepan), you’ll need to bottle the sauce. There is the proper way to do this, and then there’s the way I do it. We go though the sauces that we make pretty quickly, and we don’t sell them to people who are likely to sue us if the seal isn’t proper and they get mold on top. If you’re OCD, find instructions for properly sterilizing your jars and bottling your preserves. Otherwise, read on.
I gather up as many randomly shaped glass jars that I have lying around (or have borrowed from neighbors if I’ve run out) with their lids (ideally with the little popping button that drives parents crazy when their kids play with them). Start your kettle boiling as much water as you can fit in it. Place jars in sink (devoid of dirty dishes), with lids upside-down next to them. When the water is boiling, fill jars and pour water over lids to sterilize them. After a few minutes, carefully empty them and line them up on the counter next to your pot of plum sauce, ready to be filled.
I’m not going to go into putting the sauce into the jars, because I assume you’re not stupid.