Just about now the first plums start ripening on the trees. The earliest are the 'wild' plums, hardly bigger than cherries. They are freely available along many Tourangelle walking tracks. The track that passes our orchard, for instance, has a purple leafed plum growing on the edge of the ditch just up from our gate. The plums on this tree are a lovely pinky red, with very little powdery bloom. They stay fairly hard even when ripe, and never seem to be attacked by wasps like the cultivated plums in the orchard. They make great spicy plum sauce.
16 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped or crushed
A thick piece of ginger root 6-10cm long, peeled and finely chopped or grated
¾ tsp chilli powder or a medium hot red or green chilli, finely shredded
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1 onion, finely chopped
½ cup cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
Juice and finely shredded rind of a lime
- Wash plums.
- Cut out damaged and brown bits. Cut open any you suspect of having wasp damage. If there is too much wasp grub poo around the stone, discard the plum. If the damage is minimal, just scrap out the centre.
- Put the plums in a large saucepan with a splash of water and bring slowly to the boil.
- Reduce heat a little and cook for 10 minutes until the skins burst.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before pressing through a chinois / conical sieve into a bowl.
- Cook the garlic, ginger and onion in half the cider vinegar for a couple of minutes until the liquid has more or less evaporated.
- Add the plum pulp, chilli, soy, sugar, salt and the rest of the vinegar and bring slowly to a simmer.
- Cook for 15 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking.
- Add the lime juice and rind and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
- Bottle and store in the refrigerator or a very cool pantry.
- Leave to mature at least overnight before using on pork chops, in oriental dishes or as a dipping sauce.
Makes 1.5 - 2 litres of sauce.
You can use any mixture of wild or cultivated plums. In this case, I used ¼ wild plums, ¼ plums I bought from the market and ½ windfall plums from our orchard.
Don't substitute lemon for the lime, although you could use finely shredded lemon grass instead.
For a more barbeque-y flavour, add ½ - 1 tsp allspice; for a more oriental flavour add ½ - 1 tsp five spice powder.