Now is the time when luscious stone fruits such as peaches and plums are well-stocked in stores and at farmers’ markets. Whether you choose the little yellow gumball-sized plums or their larger purple cousins, both varieties are beautifully and easily transformed into a sweetly tangy sauce that makes a marvellous accompaniment to grilled meats. It’s also great as a dipping sauce for dumplings or sweet potato fries.
What about those tomatoes you bought at the farmers’ market that are now sitting on the kitchen counter attracting fruit flies? It’s time they became ketchup! Use whatever variety of tomato you like, but remember that beefsteak varieties contain much more water than paste varieties and may make for a thinner sauce. For a thicker sauce, simply increase the cooking time.
A run through a blender, food processor, or Vitamix will take the lumps out of your condiments and remove the need for peeling the fruit, especially plums; their thin skins pretty much dissolve with cooking. If you truly dislike tomato skins – they do admittedly bear a resemblance to wet tissues – just immerse the whole fruit in boiling water for several minutes until the skin begins to peel off. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool enough for you to easily slip off the skins.
Tangy Tomato Ketchup
(Adapted from The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book)
For thicker ketchup, allow several hours for simmering.
16 cups ripe tomatoes
1 cup white sugar
4 cups white or apple cider vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons pickling salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (or use 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
1/2 tablespoon allspice
Chop tomatoes, peeled or unpeeled, and add to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring regularly. The ketchup will be watery at first, but will gradually reduce and thicken with 1 to 2 hours of cooking time. When it has reached the desired thickness, remove the saucepan from the heat and puree using a hand-held immersion blender. Store in refrigerator for up to a month.
Yield varies between 3 to 5 500ml jars, depending on cooking time.
Sweet and Sour Plum Sauce
4 1/2 lb yellow or purple plums, chopped into chunks
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (Feel free to adjust this amount to suit the sweetness of your plums!)
2 tablespoons peeled and grated ginger root
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon allspice (optional)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Add all ingredients to a saucepan with a heavy bottom or to a Maslin pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring regularly until plums break down (this could take up to 60 minutes). Puree using a hand-held immersion blender or food processor. Fill clean jars with plum sauce and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Yield: 6 x 250ml jars
Elizabeth Peirce is an award-winning author, editor, gardener and teacher. Her book You Can Too! Canning, Pickling, and Preserving the Maritime Harvest is available from Nimbus Publishing and at all major bookstores. Elizabeth offers workshops that focus on how to grow and preserve our own food and she is hard at work on an online course called "Gardening in Tough Times." Visit her website at elizabethpeirce.ca.