First, plums. I managed to get it together and used most of the plum crop this year. I haven't tried the plum chutney I put up (the recipe said to let it sit for a month before using it, so it's still curing), but I did plum sauce and spiced plum jam, both of which have been fabulous. I suspect next year most of the crop will be turned into plum sauce, since I've been going through it like a fiend.
This turned out incredible. Sampling it immediately after putting it together it had three distinct taste transitions: sweet from the plum, then garlicy, then spicy. After it sits for a while the transitions are less distinct, but still there. If you like ginger you can add in 4 teaspoons of ginger along with the rest of the spices. If you do this, the ginger invades the plum's space a bit and makes a fourth transition.
First, a word about my plums. They are red plums, and are so soft and full of juice that I can't stack them on top of each other (in, for example, a box or a bag) since they immediately begin to bruise and split. They also are clingstone, so pitting them is a nightmare. To deal with these problems and the volume when they're ripe I've taken to baking them for an hour, then running them through a chinoise to produce a puree before canning them. So the plums I work with usually don't have a lot of chunks, or large pieces of skin. I mention all this only because it effects the consistency of the finished plum sauce.
So, the recipe. I start with a basic plum jam recipe:
5 cups plums
4 cups sugar
Yeah. This is not low sugar. Jam rarely is, and this starts with pretty classic jam. The recipe also called for a cup of water, but I figure my plums are juicy enough they don't need more liquid.
Mix these together, bring to a full, rolling boil, then drop to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour until the jam is thick. Once the jam is a nice, thick consistency, add the following:
8 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons minced onion
3 1/2 teaspoon crushed or powdered red chile pepper
5 cloves garlic
(I suspect apple cider vinegar would be very good also. Avoid stronger vinegars like white or red wine vinegar.)
Stir everything together and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Process into jars following standard boiling water canning.
The spiced plum jam smells and tastes like Christmas. It's also lower sugar. It's still got a bunch of sugar, but at least there is less.
About 1 3/4 cups apricot nectar, preferably unsweetened
1 tsp whole allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
4 green cardamom pods, cracked or about half a teaspoon
1 tsp peppercorns
2 1/2 tbsp Sure-jell pectin for less or no sugar recipes
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
3 1/2 cups chopped ripe plums
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp butter (prevents foaming -- do use it!)
Bring the apricot nectar and spices to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat, covered. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain, then measure 1 1/4 cups, adding more juice if needed.
Combine pectin and 1/4 cup sugar in a 5-6 qt pot. Stir in plums, then spiced juice, lemon juice and butter. Bring to a brisk boil over high heat, stirring often.
Add remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar. Return jam to brisk boil, stirring constantly 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Process in a hot water canner.
And finally, something with another fruit -- raspberries. I wanted raspberry pie and this is what turned out.
1 9" unbaked pie crust
1 1/3 cups sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup flour
3 cups raspberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup butter, chilled
Preheat over to 400 F
Make the topping. (This can be done after the pie goes into the oven for the first time.) In a medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour and chopped nuts. Cut in butter until crumbly.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and lemon-colored. Whisk in sour cream and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, flour and salt together. Stir in egg mixture. Gently fold in raspberries.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the center begins to set. Sprinkle with topping and return to oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until topping is golden brown. Allow to cool before serving.
A few notes: I've done this pie twice now, and haven't added the nuts either time. It's really good without them. I only list them because they were in the original recipe. I also leave out the salt. I usually don't add salt to any of my food, so for me adding any ends up being too salty. The first time I made it I accidentally left out the vanilla, and I think it tasted better without it. Pick your favorite combination, and enjoy!
And for the calorie-conscious, I use fat-free sour cream, and for the white sugar I use Splenda.