The enduring popularity of plum sauce dates back thousands of years ago and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down this century, either! This simple Asian plum sauce is not just a key ingredient in outstanding Chinese cuisine, it also goes incredibly well with typical weeknight favorites like meatloaf, chicken, and casseroles.
Your Pantry NEEDS this (highly versatile) Sauce!
Let me be direct. This sweet, tangy, and simple Asian plum sauce is EXACTLY why I started canning. Not only is this sauce almost impossible to find at the grocery store (and that’s saying something because I’m a city gal living in the metropolis of our nation’s capital) but if and when you do find plum sauce, it’ll be sooooo stinkin’ expensive for that itty bitty bottle!
Plum Sauce is hard to find (but EASY to make)!
If you purchase this at the store, you will absolutely overpay. And that’s cruh-aaaaaah-zeee because it’s just plums, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar and some spices. If you’re using in-season fresh plums you’ll be making jars of this for pennies! That’s right, a pint of this sauce might run you 0.30 a jar if you’re paying not more than $1.99 per lb.
I know, right?! And, it gets even better.
Because when you finally TASTE this incredible sauce you’ll experience the extremes of two emotions at the exact same time.
(ya’ ready for this?)
The first emotion will be:
“Goodness, gracious, where have you been all my life? I want to slather, bake, rub, and drizzle you on everythaang!” (yes, ‘thang’ not ‘thing’)
And, your second, simultaneous reaction will be:
<<PURE OUTRAGE>>> “What is the hidden agenda that has kept this deliciousness so hard to find? This just isn’t right. I need answers, and I need them NOW!” *fist hits table for dramatic effect*
(or at least some version of that)
You Need to Make Savory Asian Plum Sauce NOW because…
- The versatility of this condiment is incredible. It’s thicker, jammy texture makes it perfect for basting and spreading, it’s equally suited for a variety of meats and vegetables, and it’s incredibly easy to make at home!
- By making your own sauce, you get to control the ingredients – both for taste, and health. That’s a winning duo.
- The substitutions you can make with this recipe allow you to create customized flavor profiles based on your location, season, and what you may already have on hand. That makes preparing and enjoying this recipe easy peasy.
If you’re not already, this recipe will be the reason you’ll start buying plums in bulk.
Darlin’ I’m jus’ saying that because it’s true. Be warned that you’re officially on a slippery slope towards cutting ties with commercial condiments!
What Kinds of Plums Should I Use?
Plums fall into two categories: European and Oriental. Both are delicious but have a subtle difference in firmness, color, size, and sugar content. When making a sauce, stick with any Oriental variety (which are generally clingstone). When canning plain plums, opt for European varieties (which are freestone).
Pssst…You can even use pickled or jars of your home-preserved plums too!
What can you cook with Plum Sauce?
The short answer is “A lot more than you think.” But, here are some recipe ideas to get you started. Take a look at my video to view recipe ideas and a step-by-step tutorial.
Stir Fry Breakfast Pie: Take all the flavors you love in a well-made stir fry and bring them to breakfast. If you already have leftover rice (or noodles) this will be one of the easiest and healthiest breakfasts you’ll ever make. Rice, topped with peppers, carrots, onions, and beaten eggs, bake wonderfully together to create a savory pie where this savory sauce is the special ingredient poured on top. This recipe easily converts to a make-ahead grab-and-go breakfast or anytime snack by spooning the mixture into a muffin pan to bake.
Bagel Bake with Plum Sauce: Resisting the caramelized crunch from this easy one-pan breakfast treat is futile! Picture a bread and egg souffle dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with this delectable sauce. My heavens! Paired with a cup of coffee, your morning never tasted (or looked) so good.
Dipping Sauce & Sandwich Spread: Anything (yes, I mean anything) fried or baked is a perfect partner with this savory and simple Asian plum sauce. Deep-fried dishes like spring rolls, egg rolls, wontons, dumplings, or as a glaze on meats like roasted duck, baked or fried chicken, or pork were made for plum pairing.
Meatballs or Meatloaf: If you want to have the best-tasting meatballs or meatloaf you’ve gotta get the flavor element down (am I right or am I right? ). That’s where this plum sauce shines because the combination of simmered herbs, acidity, sweetness, and spice is already jarred up for you. Plum Sauce meatballs make the perfect party appetizer, game day treat, lettuce wrap filling, or Chinese spaghetti and meatballs. If your taste buds are ready for more temptation, my Rosemary and Balsamic Onion Jam is a pantry essential I refuse to ever have less than 10 jars of. Here’s the recipe and video. You can thank me later.
Sticky Chicken Drumsticks: When you can barely muster the will to put anything on the table, this dinner idea will become a lifesaver. Why? Because it’s an insanely delicious, one dish, one dump, then bake recipe, aaaaaand requires just TWO ingredients–this sauce and chicken thighs or drumsticks (fine, if you’re feeling fancy sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion). All you do is brush your simple Asian plum sauce on your meat and bake until deeply bronzed and well done. Add veggies and dinner is done (and the kitchen ain’t a mess).
Plum Sauce Salmon: My salmon lovers won’t get enough of this glaze. Look, I don’t need to convince you that onion and garlic are critical to a savory salmon. The balance of sweet and sour with a subtle spicy kick really raises the bar. Pour this goodness over your fish, bake, and let the aromatics give you waaaay more credit for how easy this was to make.
Asian Plum Sauce is also fantastic as a glaze for vegetables and tofu. You’ll also enjoy it stirred into casseroles, soups, dressing for Asian coleslaw, dips that need a flavor “pick me up” or as a practical hostess or holiday gift.
Helpful Recipe Tips!
Here are some important things to know before you get started.
- No Plums? No Problem– You can substitute the plums in this recipe with a number of other fruits (peaches, prunes, cherries, apricots, papayas or apples) for a tasty twist.
- Leave the Skin On– Plum skins are generally sweet and are high in vitamin K, A and fiber. The skins will disintegrate as the sauce simmers and contribute to the texture and flavor of your final product.
- Plums Aren’t Picky-Yup, you can totally use fresh, frozen, pickled or dried plums (prunes) for this recipe. Just make sure you remove the pits.
- Stay in Season: If you want the best flavor and price, stick with in-season plums. Plum season is generally May-October (depending on variety and your location) so I can some fresh and freeze what I can’t get to right away. According to the Oregon State University Extension Office, “Plums can be frozen in a sugar pack (using 5 parts fruit with 1 part sugar) or syrup pack (using a 50% syrup) or frozen whole with no added sugar or syrup. Plums and prunes can also be cooked in a sugar syrup before freezing to make a sauce.” I’ve tried all these methods with wonderful results.
- Mix It Up: A combination of slightly underripe to ripe plums is ideal for this recipe. If you’re short on plums, you can combine apricots and plums to yield a very similar result! Do not use plums/fruits that are badly blemished or are starting to mold.
- Endless Vinegar: This recipe uses apple cider vinegar which is smoother and less sour than the tang you’ll get from white distilled vinegar. If you prefer something a bit more sweet and crisp, consider using rice vinger. As long as your cider strength is 5% (do not use homemade) your recipe is safe to water bath can.
- Don’t skip the Cinnamon– While you may want to tread lightly when adding the clove and all spice, don’t be afraid to add the full amount of cinnamon. Cinnamon is generally added to the Plum Sauce recipe to give it a nice flavor and aroma. It totally works with this recipe.
- Canning with Less Sugar– You can replace the sugar in this recipe with non-heat sensitive artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda. Mild-flavored honey may be used to replace up to half of the white sugar. Do NOT use Aspertame because it will loose its sweetness during processing.
Finally, I implore you to lick the spoon before you jar it up! Why? Because this is YOUR Asian Plum Sauce Recipe, I’m just here to convince you to stop buying the store stuff and make sure you can it safely.
If the spirit moves ya’ to add a splash of sriracha, chipotle seasoning, or any other spice mixture, so be it! Tweaking a recipe until you think it’s just right is what canning at home is allll about! (note: do not add anything containing meat, nuts or dairy to this recipe.)
Is this recipe approved as safe?
YES! That’s because I only share tested home canning recipes inspired by reputable sources. I take safe canning practices very seriously, so this (and any) recipe that appears on my blog or YouTube channel will:
- Use only recipe methods that follow safe and science-based guidelines published by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Center for Home Food Preservation, and Jarden companies like Ball and Bernardin.
- Source all information so that you can follow it back to the canning authorities where the recipe originated. I know this makes nearly every other word in my blog post look like a lit-up Christmas tree, but I want you to be a confident, informed canner too, so I’m very transparent about any modifications I include.
My goal with publicly sharing canning recipes is to inspire you to create your own healthier, better-tasting, and usually cheaper convenience foods. And, to show how canning food in the modern world still makes sense! Above all, I want you to be both safe and successful in your canning efforts. For this reason, I’ll always link to the approved NCHFP canning recipes and encourage you to make a small investment in purchasing the most updated preservation books and equipment I use in my own kitchen.
Simple Asian Plum Sauce | Canning Recipe
*Makes approximately 7 cups or 3.5 pints
18 purple plums, washed and pitted (about 3 lbs)
3 cups brown sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 tbs salt
3 cups finely diced onion
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
½ cup raisins
4 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp chili powder (add more to taste)
¼ tsp each: ground cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice
Optional: 1 cup of honey (in addition to brown sugar)
Optional: 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce (some like it hot)
Optional: 1 tbsp chili flakes
Water bath canner, half-pint or pint-sized canning jars, jar lifting, canning lids, and rings, large pot
- Start by finely chopping the plums by hand or use a food processor. You’ll need a minimum of 2 ½ cups.
- Then, combine plums, sugar, vinegar, and salt in a large non-reactive stainless steel or enamel sauce pan. Bring ingredients to a boil using high heat and allow your mixture to gentle boil, uncovered for 3-5 minutes, stirring intermittently.
- Stir in onion, garlic, raisins, soy sauce, chili powder, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and all spice into your saucepan. Bring the ingredients back to a full boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, uncovered for 50 minutes or until the mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally. This is also the time to add a few drops of sriracha sauce and/or chili flakes it you want something a bit more spicy as well as a bit of honey if you want the taste to be a bit more sweet. As long as your not adding meat or dairy, season away!
- Cut the heat and allow ingredients to cool enough for you to puree your mixture into a smooth texture.
- If you prefer jammy and moderately thick texture, pour your puree back into the pot and simmer for another 7-10 minutes or until it is thick and coats the back of a spoon. If you prefer a more spreadable texture immediately proceed to jarring your sauce after it’s pureed.
Let’s Can Your Sauce in a Simple Water Bath!
How do I sterilize my jars?
Sterilizing your jars is a quick and easy process that destroys the enemies of preservation — bacteria, yeast, and fungi so that your food stays fresh and shelf-stable for 12 months (or more). It’s not hard to do at all. Below, I’ve shared several options, pick your preference:
- Run the jars through a ‘quick clean’ or ‘sterilization’ cycle in your dishwasher.
- Place the jars in a large pot (12 quart) of water on top of a steaming rack (so they don’t touch the bottom of the pan), and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. Remove hot jars right before use.
- Or hand wash and rinse the jars, dry them, and place them (without lids or rings) in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.
Filling your Jars
- Sanitize (directions above) your jars and place them on a dishtowel.
- Grab your funnel and ladle that delicious homemade sauce into the jars, leaving a ¼ inch of headspace.
- Remove any air bubbles by running a long plastic or wooden skewer between the jar and the sauce.
- Wipe the rims of the jars with vinegar to remove any spillage (which can prevent your jars from creating a seal).
- Secure the rings to the top of your jar until they are “fingertip tight”–secured but air still has room to pass through.
Preserving Your Plum Sauce
This recipe uses a 5% strength vinegar (AVC, White Distilled, or Rice), which gives it the required level of acidity needed to keep it both shelf-stable and soft in a water bath. Only formulated high acid recipes can be safely processed in a boiling water bath.
- Using a jar rack or plate, lower the jars into the boiling water of your water bath canner.
- Pour in more water to ensure that the water covers at least an inch above your jars.
- Place the lid on your pot.
- Bring water to a full boil for 10 minutes, then use a jar lifting to remove the jars out of the water and let them cool on a towel undisturbed for a minimum of 8 hours. (note: do not tighten the caps or you’ll risk breaking the seal).
When are the jars ready?
As your jars cool, you’ll hear the jars making clicking pops. Leave the jars undisturbed on a towel between 8-24 hours. After that, you can confirm the jars have been sealed by removing the rings. A sealed jar lid will remain secured to the jar without the rim and be slightly indented in the center. Use your index finger to moderately tap on the jar in a few places, it should not pop back when pressed. The majority of your jars will seal within a few hours of cooling down. If you have any jars that didn’t seal properly, just store them in the fridge and use them within 3 months.
When does this sauce expire?
Your plum sauce will be shelf-stable and keep (unopened) for up to one year. If you’re not canning this, freeze for up to 3 months.
Craving more savory canning recipes? Don’t miss out on my Sweet & Savory Orange Marmalade Jam, next. This will surely become another one of your favorites!